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Faculty for Biology, Chemistry, and Earth Sciences

Department of Plant Systematics: Angiosperm Working Group - Prof. Dr. Sigrid Liede-Schumann

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Schweiger, A; Ullmann, M; Nürk, NM; Triebel, D; Schobert, R; Rambold, G: Chemical properties of key metabolites determine the global distribution of lichens, Ecology Letters, 25, 416–426 (2021), doi:10.1111/ele.13930 [Link]
In lichen symbioses, fungal secondary metabolites provide UV protection on which lichen algae such as trebouxiophycean green algae – the most prominent group of photobionts in lichen symbioses – sensitively depend. These metabolites differ in their UV absorbance capability and solvability, and thus vary in their propensity of being leached from the lichen body in humid and warm environments, with still unknown implications for the global distribution of lichens. In this study covering more than 10,000 lichenized fungal species, we show that the occurrence of fungal-derived metabolites in combination with their UV absorbance capability and their probability of being leached in warm and humid environments are important eco-evolutionary drivers of global lichen distribution. Fungal-derived UV protection seems to represent an indirect environmental adaptation in which the lichen fungus invests to protect the trebouxiophycean photobiont from high UV radiation in warm and humid climates and, by doing this, secures its carbon source.
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