SPUN EXPEDITION: Mycorrhizal Wealth of East Carpathians

The interdisciplinary team of RHIZOSPHERE has joined the mission of SPUN SOCIETY FOR THE PROTECTION OF UNDERGROUND NETWORKS – an ambitious international program to initiate global action to protect underground ecosystems that are largely unaccounted for in biodiversity and climate change agendas. We are one of the groups that are involved in the collection and analysis of fungal DNA samples from places not yet explored. These are the places indicated on the prediction map, created with the help of AI by SPUN, which may play the role of hot spots of underground mycorrhizal networks. The core of our project is the scientific research on the role of mother trees (monumental trees) and their mycobiomes in sustaining natural ecosystems, in the East Carpathian Biosphere Reserve, especially in the buffer zone of the Bieszczady National Park. It is an area not only of exceptional biological but also cultural and historical importance, on the border of Poland, Ukraine and Slovakia.

AREA: Around 10 000 ha of the southeast buffer zone of Bieszczady National Park (BdPN). We got from FDP Natural Heritage Foundation (Polish expert NGO) GPS coordinates of 3675 ‘mother trees’, each exceeding the legislative dimensions for natural monuments (18 species, dominated by common beeches and silver firs).

SIGNIFICANCE: The scientific intention is to provide evidence of root mycobiome biodiversity around monumental trees forming the backbone of the East Carpathian Biosphere Reserve. Database references to the fungal biodiversity of this region are slim (and contain few sequences). The groups of ‘mother trees’ to be surveyed can be considered the ‘hot spots’ of the region, according to the nomenclature of SPUN prediction map. The area of the planned research is the State Forest Stuposiany district, a buffer zone of the Bieszczady National Park, where ‘mother trees’ are still being logged there at an alarming rate (documented by another NGO -IDK). We intend to analyze mycobiomes also around tree trunks logged a few years ago, so we will also reach the local ‘cold spots’, i.e. the mountain habitats affected by anthropogenic degradation. We hope that our scientific and social activities contribute to expanding the area of the Bieszczady National Park.

INTERDISCIPLINARY CHALLENGE: to visualize extremely complex and rich fungal networks and popularize knowledge about their fundamental role in local and global ecosystems, with an emphasis on the inherent relationship between biological and societal processes.


Rhizosphere / Myconauts TEAM:

Science:  Assoc. Prof.  dr hab Władysław Polcyn, junior bioinformaticians: Maksymilian ChmielewskiMikołaj Charchuta ; Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan: 

Art: Prof. dr hab Joanna Hoffmann, Maria Subczyńska, Jadwiga Subczyńska;  Art & Science Node & University of Arts in Poznań 

Piotr Klub; Foundation for Natural Heritage 

Robert Kalak; Stowarzyszenie Prawo do Przyrody (Right to Nature Association)

Learn more about SPUN Expedition in the East Carpathians