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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2004

Organic and inorganic nitrogen uptake in lichens

Dahlman L, Persson J, Palmqvist K, Nasholm T


In order to learn more about nitrogen (N) acquisition in lichens, and to see whether different lichens differ in their affinity to various N sources, N uptake was measured in 14 various lichen associations ("species"). These species represented various morphologies (fruticose or foliose), contrasting microhabitat preferences (epiphytic or terricolous), and had green algal, cyanobacterial or both forms of photobionts. N was supplied under non-limiting conditions as an amino acid mixture, ammonium, or nitrate, using N-15 to quantify uptake. Carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenylhydrazone (CCCP) was used to separate active and passive uptake. Thallus N, amino acids, soluble polyol concentrations, and the biont-specific markers chlorophyll a and ergosterol were quantified, aiming to test if these metabolites or markers were correlated with N uptake capacity. Ammonium uptake was significantly greater and to a higher extent passive, relative to the other two N sources. Nitrate uptake differed among lichen photobiont groups, cyanobacterial lichens having a lower uptake rate. All lichens had the capacity to assimilate amino acids, in many species at rates equal to nitrate uptake or even higher, suggesting that organic N compounds could potentially have an important role in the N nutrition of these organisms. There were no clear correlations between N uptake rates and any of the measured metabolites or markers. The relative uptake rates of ammonium, nitrate and amino acids were not related to morphology or microhabitat

Published in

2004, Volume: 219, number: 3, pages: 459-467
Publisher: SPRINGER