Roccellinastrum, Cenozosia and Heterodermia: Ecology and phylogeny of fog lichens and their photobionts from the coastal Atacama Desert

Jung P., Werner L., Briegel-Williams L., Emrich D. & Lakatos M.
98: 317–348
Some deserts on Earth such as the Namib or the Atacama are influenced by fog which can lead to the formation of local fog oases - unique environments hosting a great diversity of specialized plants and lichens. Lichens of the genera Ramalina, Niebla or Heterodermia have taxonomically been investigated from fog oases around the globe but not from the Atacama Desert, one of the oldest and driest deserts. Conditioned by its topography and the presence of orographic fog, the National Park Pan de Azúcar in the Atacama Desert is considered to be such a lichen hotspot. Applying multi-gen loci involving phylogenetic analyses combined with intense morphological and chemical characterization, we determined the taxonomic position of five of the most abundant epiphytic lichens of this area. We evaluated Roccellinastrum spongoideum and Heterodermia follmannii which were both described from the area but also finally showed that the genus Cenozosia is the endemic sister genus to Ramalina, Vermilacinia, Namibialina and Niebla. As a result, we have described the species Heterodermia adunca, C. cava and C. excorticata as new lichen species. This work provides a comprehensive dataset for common fog lichen genera of the Coastal Range of the Atacama Desert that can be used as a baseline for monitoring programs and environmental health assessments. Key words: Chlorolichens, Heterodermia, Niebla, Pan de Azucar, Symbiochloris, Trebouxia.
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