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Environ Pollut. 2008 May;153(2):304-8. Epub 2007 Oct 25.

Metal homeostasis in Hypogymnia physodes is controlled by lichen substances.

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Department of Plant Ecology, University of Göttingen, Untere Karspüle 2, D-37073 Göttingen, Germany.


The hypothesis was tested that the lichen substances produced by the epiphytic lichen Hypogymnia physodes control the intracellular uptake of divalent transition metals. Incubating lichen thalli with and without their natural content of lichen substances with metal solutions showed that the lichen substances of H. physodes selectively inhibit the uptake of Cu(2+) and Mn(2+), but not of Fe(2+) and Zn(2+). Such behavior is ecologically beneficial, as ambient concentrations of Cu(2+) and Mn(2+) in precipitation and bark are known to limit the abundance of H. physodes, whereas limiting effects of Fe(2+) or Zn(2+) have never been found. This suggests that increasing the Cu(2+) and Mn(2+) tolerance stimulated the evolution of lichen substances in H. physodes. The depsidone physodalic acid is apparently most effective at reducing Cu(2+) and Mn(2+) uptake among the seven lichen substances produced by H. physodes. Probably lichen substances play a general role in the metal homeostasis of lichens.

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