Saving endangered trees in the Colombian Andes

Plant Science and Biodiversity Centre (PSBC) SAS collaborates with University of Rosario, Bogotá, Colombia in research of tropical ectomycorrhizal trees in Colombia. One of the focal tree species is Trigonobalanus excelsa (common name roble negro or black oak) which is a slow growing tree with very limited reproduction. This species is endemic of the Colombian Andes and its distribution is now fragmented and shrinking due to deforestation and selective logging. Black oak wood shows a high density and resistance to decay and therefore it is highly used for outdoor uses. Due to the complexity of the ecosystem dominated black oak in Colombia the restoration of the areas affected by deforestation and agriculture is currently very difficult.

The joint research of Slavomír Adamčík from laboratory of Molecular Ecology and Mycology PSBC SAS and Adriana Corrales from University of Rosario in Colombia aims to characterize the ectomycorrhizal fungi associated with Colombian oaks, particularly the most abundant and diverse genus Russula. They already described two new species of this genus for the country. Field research and local community education took place in the provinces of Huila and Santander. Community members and natural reserves owners were trained and involved in soil and biological material sampling for DNA analyses of fungal diversity. Dr. Adriana Corrales also presented information about threats of the Colombian black oak ecosystem and the role of fungi in maintaining the stability and restoration of its habitat. Community members learned to recognize the most abundant fungal species in the forest, among them was one of the most common Colombian ectomycorrhizal fungus Russula floriformis, recently described in collaboration with Slovak researchers (

Part of this work was done within the project “In situ conservation of threatened trees of Colombia: Special focus on endemic and endangered species of Fagaceae – Priority taxa (2021-2023): Trigonobalanus excelsa (EN)” funded by the Franklinia Fundation to protect endangered tree species ( This project is linked to the Slovak national project APVV-20-0257 (acronym STRAKA).

Text: Mgr. Slavomír Adamčík, PhD.
Photo: Adriana Corrales, Universita of Rosario