Paraphyly and cryptic diversity unveils unexpected challenges in the “naked lichens” (Calvitimela, Lecanoromycetes, Ascomycota)

Fjelde M.O., Timdal E., Haugan R. & Bendiksby M.
Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
190: 107944 [16 p.]
Molecular phylogenetics has revolutionized the taxonomy of crustose lichens and revealed an extensive amount of cryptic diversity. Resolving the relationships between genera in the crustose lichen family Tephromelataceae has proven difficult and the taxon limits within the genus Calvitimela are only partly understood. In this study, we tested the monophyly of Calvitimela and investigated phylogenetic relationships at different taxonomic levels using an integrative taxonomic approach. We performed a global sampling of all species currently assigned to Calvitimela and conducted additional sampling of C. melaleuca sensu lato across Norway. We included 108 specimens and produced more than 300 sequences from five different loci (ITS, LSU, MCM7, mtSSU, TEF1-α). We inferred phylogenetic relationships and estimated divergence times in Calvitimela. Moreover, we analyzed chemical and morphological characters to test their diagnostic values in the genus. Our molecular phylogenetic results show evolutionarily old and deeply divergent lineages in Calvitimela. The morphological characters are overlapping between divergent subgenera within this genus. Chemical characters, however, are largely informative at the level of subgenera, but are often homoplastic at the species level. The subgenus Calvitimela is found to include four distinct genetic lineages. Detailed morphological examinations of C. melaleuca s. lat. reveal differences between taxa previously assumed to be morphologically cryptic. Furthermore, young evolutionary ages and signs of gene tree discordance indicate a recent divergence and possibly incomplete lineage sorting in the subgenus Calvitimela. Phylogenetic analysis and morphological observations revealed that C. austrochilensis and C. uniseptata are extraneous to Calvitimela (Tephromelataceae). We also found molecular evidence supporting C. septentrionalis being sister to C. cuprea. In the subgenus Severidea, one new grouping is recovered as a highly supported sister to C. aglaea. Lastly, two fertile specimens were found to be phylogenetically nested within the sorediate species C. cuprea. We discuss the need for an updated classification of Calvitimela and the evolution of cryptic species. Through generic circumscription and species delimitation we propose a practical taxonomy of Calvitimela. Keywords: Cryptic species; Integrative taxonomy; Lichenized fungi; Phylogenetics; Substitutional saturation; Secondary chemistry.
Thursday, 18 January 2024 20:04