One of our projects is studying a parasitic fungus that rather recently has started to attack both agricultural crops and forestry trees in southern Tanzania. The livelihood of the population in rural areas is seriously threatened and if the parasite cannot be controlled millions will soon lose their means of living. Both their cash crops and food resources. This would have a disastrous impact on the rural development in the area, which is dominated by agro-forestry, and also on the economy and food supply of Tanzania.
Another project is focused on aquatic fungi. Fungi in water are probably just as ecologically important as fungi on land, although very little is known about their role in aquatic ecosystems and only recently we have understood that fungi occur almost everywhere also in aquatic environments (both in freshwater and in the sea), but only very few aquatic fungi are known from Sweden which means that the whole research area on diversity and ecology of aquatic fungi is here unexplored. This hampers our understanding of aquatic environments and their ecology severely, not least probably as to the Baltic, a unique environment severely threatened by particularly nutrient but also other pollution.
We also study lichens, i.e. fungi living in symbiosis with algae. The work entails classical taxonomical work in which the diversity, phylogeny, biogeography and ecology of these lichens are being described, supplemented by DNA sequence information. We describe previously unknown lichens, many of which are rare and associated with particularly valuable habitats that need protection. This work is part of the obligation under the international Convention of Biological Diversity, according to which it is our responsibility to describe and protect all species, even if they are rare. Or perhaps especially if they are rare, since then they may, as a genetic resource, be lost. Many of the species described also are indicator species of valuable habitats that need protection. The work also results in contributions to flora series – so far one volume of the Nordic Lichen Flora and one more is in preparation.