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New Phytol. 2012 Sep;195(4):812-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2012.04221.x. Epub 2012 Jul 4.

The paradox of higher light tolerance during desiccation in rare old forest cyanolichens than in more widespread co-occurring chloro- and cephalolichens.

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Department of Ecology and Natural Resource Management, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, PO Box 5003, NO-1432 Ås, Norway.


Desiccation tolerance was quantified in four cyanolichens (Lobaria hallii, Lobaria retigera, Lobaria scrobiculata, Pseudocyphellaria anomala), one cephalolichen (Lobaria pulmonaria) and one chlorolichen (Platismatia glauca) from xeric and mesic, open and closed North American boreal forests. These sympatric epiphytes were exposed to 0%, 33%, 55% and 75% relative humidity with or without medium light (200 μmol m⁻² s⁻¹) for 7 d. Permanent and temporary photoinhibitory damage was recorded as viability measures. All species tolerated well the drying in darkness, but L. hallii and L. retigera, associated with a very humid climate, showed minor damage at the hardest drying (silica gel). Simultaneous exposure to medium light severely aggravated the drying damage at all relative humidity levels. Combined drying-light exposure was particularly devastating for the widespread chloro- and cephalolichens, whereas cyanolichens, including rare old forest species, were fairly resistant. The ability to recover after combined drying-light stress (this study) correlated positively with increasing species-specific water holding capacities (from the literature). Cyanolichens, depending on liquid water and large internal water storage, probably require strong drying-light resistance to handle long periods between hydration events, whereas chlorolichens can regularly maintain their photosynthetic apparatus during frequent and rapid activation by humid air on clear mornings.

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