Old-growth forest versus generalist lichens: Sensitivity to prolonged desiccation stress and photosynthesis reactivation rate upon rehydration

Osyczka P., Kościelniak R. & Stanek M.
116(1): 31–43
Most epiphytic lichens demonstrate high specificity to a habitat type, and sensitive hygrophilous species usually find shelter only in close-to-natural forest complexes. Some of them are considered as old-growth forest and/or long ecological continuity indicators. To evaluate general links between the narrow ecological range and physiological traits, two distinct sets of model lichens, i.e., old-growth forest (Cetrelia cetrarioides (Duby) W.L. Culb. & C.F. Culb., Lobaria pulmonaria (L.) Hoffm., Menegazzia terebrata (Hoffm.) A. Massal.), and generalist (Flavoparmelia caperata (L.) Hale, Hypogymnia physodes (L.) Nyl., Parmelia sulcata Taylor) ones, were examined in terms of sensitivity to long-term desiccation stress (1-, 2-, and 3-month) and photosynthesis activation rate upon rehydration. Desiccation tolerance and response rate to rehydration are specific to a given ecological set of lichens rather than to a particular species. Noticeable delayed and prompt recovery of high photosynthetic activity of photosystem II (PSII) characterize these sets, respectively. At the same time, although a decrease in the potential quantum yield of PSII in lichen thalli with a relative water content (RWC) at the level of 25% was observed, the efficiency remained at a very high level for all species, regardless of habitat preferences. Among the examined lichens, the fluorescence emission parameters for F. caperata were the fastest toward equilibrium upon rehydration, both after a shorter and a longer period of desiccation stress. In contrast to generalist lichens, retrieving of photosynthesis after 3-month desiccation failed in old-growth forest lichens. In the long term, prolonged rainless periods and unfavorable water balance in the environment predicted in the future may have a severely limiting effect on hygrophilous lichens during growing season (also in the sense of species associations) and, at the same time, promote the development of generalists. Keywords: Bioindicators; chlorophyll fluorescence; lichen ecophysiology; lichenized fungi; photobiont.
Thursday, 25 January 2024 23:17