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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2018

Photobiont switching causes changes in the reproduction strategy and phenotypic dimorphism in the Arthoniomycetes

Ertz, Damien; Guzow-Krzeminska, Beata; Thor, Goran; Lubek, Anna; Kukwa, Martin


Phylogenetic analyses using mtSSU and nuITS sequences of Buellia violaceofusca (previously placed in Lecanoromycetes), a sterile, sorediate lichen having a trebouxioid photobiont, surprisingly prove that the species is conspecific with Lecanographa amylacea (Arthoniomycetes), a fertile, esorediate species with a trentepohlioid photobiont. These results suggest that L. amylacea and B. violaceofusca are photomorphs of the same mycobiont species, which, depending on the photobiont type, changes the morphology and the reproduction strategy. This is the first example of a lichenized fungus that can select between Trebouxia (Trebouxiophyceae) and trentepohlioid (Ulvophyceae) photobionts. Trebouxia photobionts from the sorediate morphotype belong to at least three different phylogenetic clades, and the results suggest that Lecanographa amylacea can capture the photobiont of other lichens such as Chrysothrix candelaris to form the sorediate morphotype. Phylogenetic analyses based on rbcL DNA data suggest that the trentepohlioid photobiont of L. amylacea is closely related to Trentepohlia isolated from fruticose lichens. The flexibility in the photobiont choice enables L. amylacea to use a larger range of tree hosts. This strategy helps the lichen to withstand changes of environmental conditions, to widen its distribution range and to increase its population size, which is particularly important for the survival of this rare species.


photobionts; lichens; mycobionts

Published in

Scientific Reports
2018, volume: 8, article number: 4952

Authors' information

Ertz, Damien
Botanic Garden Meise
Guzow-Krzemińska, Beata
University of Gdansk
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Łubek, Anna
Jan Kochanowski University in Kielce
Kukwa, Martin
University of Gdansk

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