Botanic Garden Meise - OUR SCIENTISTS
Damien ERTZ, PhD
My main research is to contribute to the taxonomy of the Arthoniales, one of the main groups of the Pezizomycotina including c. 55 genera and c. 1200 species. The Arthoniales are a major component of the lichen flora of many forest types, especially in the tropics where many corticolous and foliicolous species occur. It is also well represented in saxicolous habitats, especially in subtropical coastal habitats with a Mediterranean or desert type climate. Recent research in the Garden focus on a taxonomic revision of the genus Opegrapha and on a broad and exhaustive molecular phylogenetic study of the order.
I am also interested in the phylogeny of lichenicolous fungi from various taxonomic groups. The lichenicolous habit represents a major evolutionary theme and arose in several lineages within the Fungi. We focus on these lichen-inhabiting fungi as they represent a key factor to our understanding of the evolution of the fungi. The discovery of many new taxa is expected in these still poorly studied groups.
Research has also been recently developed in Antarctic regions. During the BELARE expedition of 2007, samples were collected near the Belgian Antarctic Research Station in the Sør Rondane mountains (Antarctic continent) with the support of the Belgian Science Policy Office (Belspo). A study of the lichen flora of the French subantarctic islands (TAAF) started recently in collaboration with the University of Rennes.
Several floristic studies are performed to improve the lichen checklist of Belgium and Luxembourg, the floristic database and the atlas of distribution maps (http://www.lichenology.info). Other floristic studies focus on Macaronesia and tropical Africa, including Madagascar and the Mascarene archipelago.