Soil is a complex biological system that plays a key role for plants and animals, especially in dry forests such as the Caatinga. Fungi from soils, such as Aspergillus and Penicillium, can be used as bioindicators for biodiversity conservation. The aim of this study was to isolate and identify species of Aspergillus and Penicillium in soil, from the municipalities of Tupanatinga and Ibimirim, with dry forests, in the Catimbau National Park. Five collections were performed in each area during the drought season of 2012, totaling 25 soil samples per area. Fungi were isolated by suspending soil samples in sterile distilled water and plating on Sabouraud Agar media plus Chloramphenicol and Rose Bengal, and Glycerol Dicloran Agar. Isolates were identified by morphological taxonomy in the Culture Collection Laboratory and confirmed by sequencing of the Internal Transcribed Spacer of rDNA. A total of 42 species were identified, of which 22 belong to the genus Aspergillus and 20 to Penicillium. Penicillium isolates showed uniform distribution from the collecting area in Tupanatinga, and the evenness indices found were 0.92 and 0.88 in Tupanatinga and Ibimirim, respectively. Among isolates of Aspergillus evenness, the value found in Tupanatinga (0.85) was very close to that found in Ibimirim (0.86). High diversity and low dominance of fungi in soil samples was observed. These results contributed to the estimation of fungal diversity in dry environments of the Caatinga, where diversity is decreasing in soils that have undergone disturbance.

Keywords: Catimbau, Caatinga, fungi, richness, taxonomy