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Fungal Biol. 2012 Jun;116(6):665-76. doi: 10.1016/j.funbio.2012.04.001. Epub 2012 Apr 10.

Photobiont selectivity and specificity in Caloplaca species in a fog-induced community in the Atacama Desert, northern Chile.

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  • 1Botanische Staatssammlung München, Menzinger Strasse 67, D80638 München, Germany. reinaldovargas@gmail.com

Abstract

Little is known about the nature of the association between mycobionts and photobionts in isolated lichen communities. Here we studied the photobiont diversity of different Caloplaca species in a fog-induced community in the Atacama Desert. We compared nrDNA ITS sequences of both symbionts, photobionts and mycobionts, along with morphological characters of the different lichen thalli, to investigate the diversity and to assess the degree of selectivity and specificity of photobiont species in a community of Caloplaca species. Specimens of six fungal species (C. orthoclada, C. fernandeziana, and four undescribed species) were sampled along an altitudinal gradient on a coastal bluff with a strong fog presence, 60 km south of Iquique, Chile. The photobiont species in this community belong to three species of the genus Trebouxia in the strict sense: T. arboricola, T. decolorans, and T. gigantea. Most of the fungal species were lichenized with photobionts belonging to different haplotypes of T. arboricola and T. decolorans, although the algae of three specimens, associated with two fungal species (C. orthoclada and C. sp1), were related to representatives of T. gigantea. These results indicate that members of the genus Caloplaca in northern Chile have moderate photobiont selectivity and appear to be selective to members of the T. arboricola group. Also, at high altitudes, changes in the photobiontal haplotype composition were observed in comparison to lower altitudes, probably generated by a higher water availability given higher fog condensation and precipitation in the upper areas of the bluff. This may suggest that ecological factors, such as altitude and water availability could result in a local shift of the associated photobiont and specialization as a product of local adaptation.

Copyright © 2012 The British Mycological Society. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

PMID:
22658312
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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