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Int Microbiol. 2013 Sep;16(3):145-55.

Non-developing ascospores in apothecia of asexually reproducing lichen-forming fungi.

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  • 1Department of Biology and Geology, ESCET, University Rey Juan Carlos, Móstoles, Madrid, Spain.
  • 2Department of Plant Biology II, Faculty of Pharmacy, Complutense University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain.
  • 3Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.
  • 4Department of Biology and Geology, ESCET, University Rey Juan Carlos, Móstoles, Madrid, Spain.
  • 5Department of Plant Biology and Pathology, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.


The presence of apothecia in mixed species (vegetatively reproducing lichens, occasionally producing ascomata) has been interpreted as a mechanism to increase genetic variability in mostly clonal populations. However, spore viability from these apothecia has not been studied. We asked whether ascospores of the mixed species Physconia grisea are viable and thereby contribute to increasing the genetic diversity within populations of this species. An ontogenetic study of spores in cultures of P. grisea and a related sexual species (P. distorta), showed that although mature apothecia from both species produced and discharged meiospores capable of germination, spores from P. grisea were only rarely (0.43%) able to continue development whereas those from P. distorta germinated and developed successfully. The strongly reduced viability of P. grisea spores suggested that they do not have a strong reproductive function, at least in the two local populations analyzed. Additionally, we show that the segregation of Physconia grisea ssp. lilacina does not have molecular support.

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