Genetic diversity and geneflow between Arctic and Antarctic populations of the lichen Cetraria aculeata along the Andes and the Rocky Mountains

  • Lichens are present in most land ecosystems, frequently occupying habitats where few other organisms are able to survive. Their contribution to the ecosystems in terms of biomass and ground cover increases with latitude and altitude, being, together with bryophytes, the most conspicuous component of alpine and polar landscapes. Whereas some polar lichens have reduced distributions and are restricted to high latitudes, most of them have very wide distributional ranges, which oven extend over several climatic regions. Many of them are common to Polar Regions of both hemispheres, a distributional pattern that has been denominated as bipolar, antitropical or amphitropical. Bipolar distributions are not exclusive to lichens, but common to many groups of organisms. The bipolar element in lichens is exceptional as it includes a large number of species, while in most other land organisms it includes genera or families but very seldom species. In this dissertation I use the bipolar lichen Cetraria aculeata to give a first insight into the phylogeography of this biogeographic element in lichens. I discuss how and when the disjunct distribution of C. aculeata came to be, and try to partial out the roles that historical and ecological processes played in shaping its distribution. Sampling was designed to cover a wide geographic extension. The main e"ort was made to collect in boreal, temperate and tropical mountain ranges in North and South America, as well to include Mediterranean populations in which specimens with deviant morphologies are observed. I found that Cetraria aculeata forms a genetically congruent taxon. Although whether it should include C. muricata remains unsolved, I excluded all specimens identified as the latter from our analyses. Thee populations of both algal and fungal symbionts have a strong geographic structure. The study of the lichen fungus suggested that the species originated in the Eurasian continent and later expanded to acquire its current distribution during the Pleistocene. The results showed that all American populations originated from an ancestral population, more similar to the extant Arctic populations than to the Mediterranean ones. The comparison between the structure of fungal and algal populations showed a high degree of coherence between them. However, the similarity in photobiont use between Arctic and Antarctic populations suggests that photobiont use responds not only to a history of codispersal in vegetative propagula, but it is also a result of a selective process related to climate. Since this climatic pattern of similarity is also found in the community of Alphaproteobacteria associated with C. aculeata, we concluded that lichens might be able to accommodate or to respond to different environmental conditions by selectively associating with different symbiotic partners. Lastly, we found the Mediterranean populations of C. aculeata to be genetically differentiated in algal and fungal symbionts from the rest of the populations. While we found no grounds to believe that the overgrown morphs encountered in the region are due to the association with different algal lineages, I believe that a switch in photobiont use might be responsible for the pattern of genetic isolation encountered. Furthermore, I suggest that the Mediterranean and bipolar C. aculeata could be two different species, since both are ecologically, genetically and at least in part morphologically divergent.

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Author:Fernando Fernández Mendoza
Place of publication:Frankfurt am Main
Referee:Georg ZizkaORCiDGND, Imke SchmittORCiDGND, Christian Printzen
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Date of Publication (online):2014/02/13
Year of first Publication:2014
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Granting Institution:Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität
Date of final exam:2013/11/21
Release Date:2014/02/13
Page Number:V, 249
Institutes:Biowissenschaften / Biowissenschaften
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 58 Pflanzen (Botanik) / 580 Pflanzen (Botanik)
Sammlung Biologie / Biologische Hochschulschriften (Goethe-Universität)
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht