Shed LighT in the daRk lineagES of the Fungal tree of life (STRES) is a project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Joint Genome Institute (JGI) The proposal was applied to the Large-Scale Community Science Program CPS call and has been selected on September 2019 together with other 23 The project aims to sequence nearly 100 species of black fungi (reference species) and about 500 additional species in the group of Black Fungi over a 3-year effort. Black Fungi are highly polyphyletic within Ascomycota (Eurotiomycetes and Dothideomyceta). They are ubiquitous in natural and anthropogenic environments being among the most stunning “extremophiles” and/or “extremotolerant” organisms, resistant to stresses, e.g. UV and ionizing radiation, heat and desiccation, toxic metals and organic pollutants, that makes them key organisms in maintaining the balance and functionality in all the harshest ecosystems. Yet, we are still far from the whole understanding of their diversity and functionality. The ‘STRES’ project will cover as best the amplitude of Black Fungal biodiversity along the Fungal Tree Of Life by sequencing up to 92 strains as reference genomes, mostly unsampled genera, from different ecologies and different life-styles (e.g. ant- and lichen-associated fungi, rock-inhabiting fungi, etc.). The data acquired will serve as a reference and foundation for establishing encyclopedic database for fungal metagenomics, biology, evolution and ecology and will further clarify how such fungi adapt and succeed in the extremes. This will also inform on their possible applications in pollutant treatment, as well as possible preventative measures for material protection.

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