Mario Amalfi

Research scientist Mycology
Department: Research
Contact: mario.amalfi@plantentuinmeise.be
Phone: +32 2 896 61 09
ResearchGate
 

Despite their essential role in the environment only a small fraction of the estimated fungal species (from 2.2 to 3.8 million species) has been formally described (approx. 120,000). This corresponds to a mere 1% of the estimated biodiversity. One of the main problems is that Fungi raise particular problems in the determination of their "status" of species. Their range of intra-specific variations (both genetical and morphological) was poorly studied, what makes very difficult the determination of the significant characters for the establishment of diagnostic criteria. Moreover, the geographical distributions of most fungal species are also still poorly known; consequently, their origins and historical distributions remain largely understudied. High levels of cryptic diversity, scarce fossil records and poorly sampled regions can explain some of these shortcomings.

That’s why I’m particularly interested in understanding fungal species concept and their mechanisms of speciation, mainly through the integration of the different species concept’s approaches (morphological, phylogenetical, biological, ecological) and through the study of their “life histories”.

My present researches are mainly oriented towards the Systematic, Ecology, Phylogeny, Biogeography and Evolution of Fungi, with a main emphasis on poroid wood-decaying fungi (especially Hymenochaetaceae, Ganodermataceae, and Polyporaceae).

As a molecular ecologist I’m also interested in Fungal environmental genomics, in particular in the study Host-Symbiont / Host-Parasite relationships for ectomycorrhizal and parasitic fungi and in understanding the mechanisms behind fungal/plants community assembling.

Qualifications
Degrees
PhD, UCLouvain University, Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium, 2016
MSc, UCLouvain University, Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium, 2007

Projects
I’m currently working on a comparative, botanical-mycological study on the evolution of endemism and biogeographical patterns of some hotspot of the Afromontane archipelago, on developing an efficient and cost-effective methods to gather molecular data from ancient fungal herbarium specimens through High throughput sequencing (especially Holotypes) and on a worldwide study on species/genus concepts, taxonomy, phylogeny and historical biogeography of the poroid Hymenochaetales.

I’m also collaborating with other mycologists at Meise Botanical Garden on several projects, including a monograph of edible mushrooms in Katanga (DRC), a revision of the African Cantharellus, a study on the diversity, systematics and evolution of Boletineae (Boletales), a monograph on the African Polypores genera and a volume of Fungus flora of tropical Africa on the Hymenochaetaceae.

Publications
FRIS research portal