University of Bayreuth, Press Release No. 069/2023, 26.05.2023
Unique professorship newly filled at the University of Bayreuth
The University of Bayreuth has appointed mycologist Prof. Dr. Claus Bässler to the only professorship for ecology of fungi in Germany.
Mushrooms are important in medicine as well as in our ecosystems and in many areas of daily life. In addition, medicines and foodstuffs are produced by fungi, such as bread, wine and beer. So far, however, only about 100,000 of an estimated 1.5 - 4 million species of fungi are known. This is another reason why it is important to continue research in this area.
Bedeutung der Pilze aufzeigen
"The field of ecology has always been divided into animal and plant ecology," says Prof. Dr Claus Bässler. "Fungi and thus fungal ecology did not yet exist as an independent discipline." Therefore, he says, this position was ideal for him. "Until now, the fungal kingdom of organisms has played a much smaller role in our university landscape in teaching and research compared to plants and animals," he says.
"Now, through my research at the University of Bayreuth, I can contribute to mushrooms taking on a more important role in the perception outside of mushroom enthusiasts." Bässler researches the effects of anthropogenic actions on fungal diversity at different spatial and temporal scales. The focus here is on climate change and land use.
At the University of Bayreuth, Prof. Dr. Gerhard Rambold previously held the professorship for mycology. Rambold conducted research in the field of fungi, but also worked in the areas of systematics and taxonomy. The discipline of "fungal ecology", which Prof. Dr. Claus Bässler now supervises, is linked to ecology as a scientific discipline, but specialises in fungi and thus complements the strong existing field of plant and animal ecology at the University of Bayreuth.
"The University of Bayreuth has excellent expertise in the field of plant and animal ecology that has grown over many years. After Prof. Gerhard Rambold, who headed the department of mycology, retired, it was important for us to create a new professorship for fungal ecology here, as the profile field of ecology and environmental sciences is a core topic of our university," says Prof. Dr. Stefan Leible, President of the University of Bayreuth. "Top international research in the fields of global change, biodiversity, ecosystems and environmental protection as well as excellent training for young researchers is close to our hearts, which is why we are obtaining this unique professorship."
Focus on the influences of climate change
Prof. Dr Claus Bässler's research focuses on the development of forests in times of climate change. "I focus on researching how forests need to be treated in order to preserve fungal diversity. In the field of applied ecology and forest conservation, I work very closely with stakeholders to be able to make concrete evidence-based recommendations. In the future, I would like to work even more intensively on better understanding the mechanisms between fungal diversity and the associated ecosystem processes (for example, carbon and nutrient cycling)," says Bässler.
In addition, Bässler can focus on fungus-plant-animal interactions in his new field of activity. "Fungal communities are crucial for the functioning of the world's ecosystems, especially through their interactions with plants and animals. Important ecosystem processes associated with fungal community characteristics include primary production, organic matter decomposition, pathogen dynamics and complex heterotrophic food webs."
The dynamics of fungal diversity to maintain ecosystem functionality over space and time under changing environmental conditions is still poorly understood, says Bässler. Therefore, it is currently not possible to accurately predict ecosystem resilience as a result of human resource use and climate change. Prof. Claus Bässler will close some of these knowledge gaps through his research at the University of Bayreuth.