Lichen symbiosis is the result of complex interactions between fungi, photosynthetic organisms and bacteria that originate networks whose plasticity is probably the basis of the adaptation that lichens have developed to colonize multiple, sometimes extreme, environments.

The biological and ecophysiological features of lichens provide the basis of their response to climatic factors and anthropogenic impacts, placing them among the most sensitive organisms to global change. Although they significantly contribute to biodiversity and functioning of many terrestrial ecosystems, they are still poorly considered in conservation policies. This is largely linked to a relatively poor knowledge of their diversity and their distributional patterns at different spatial scales (from local to biogeographic) and to several taxonomic problems that still deserve clarification. This research line is based on the integrated use of multiple approaches to develop complex activities that aim at increasing knowledge on the diversity (from species to communities), dynamics, distribution, ecology and functional role of lichens across different environments, with particular emphasis on high altitude, forest, and freshwater ecosystems.