Geography, climate, and habitat shape the microbiome of the endangered Rock Gnome Lichen (Cetradonia linearis)

Paulsen J., Allen J.L., Morris N., Dorey J., Walke J.B. & Alter S.E.
16(3): 178 [17 p.]
Bacterial symbionts are essential components of healthy biological systems. They are increasingly recognized as important factors in the study and management of threatened species and ecosystems. Despite management shifts at the ecosystem level, microbial communities are often neglected in discussions of holobiont conservation in favor of the primary members of a symbiosis. In this study, we addressed the bacterial community knowledge gap for one of two federally endangered lichen species in the United States, Cetradonia linearis (Cladoniaceae). We collected 28 samples of the endangered rock gnome lichen (Cetradonia linearis) from 13 sites and characterized bacterial communities in thalli using 16S rRNA metabarcoding to investigate the factors influencing the microbiome composition and diversity within the thallus. We found that Proteobacteria (37.8% ± 10.3) and Acidobacteria (25.9% ± 6.0) were the most abundant phyla recovered. Cyanobacteria were a major component of the microbiome in some individuals, despite this species associating with a green algal symbiont. Habitat, climate, and geography were all found to have significant influences on bacterial community composition. An analysis of the core microbiome at a 90% threshold revealed shared amplicon sequence variants in the microbiomes of other lichens in the family Cladoniaceae. We concluded that the bacterial microbiome of Cetradonia linearis is influenced by environmental factors and that some bacterial taxa may be core to this group. Further exploration into the microbiomes of rare lichen species is needed to understand the importance of bacterial symbionts to lichen diversity and distributions. Keywords: Appalachian Mountains; conservation genetics; endemic species; rare species.
Wednesday, 13 March 2024 09:06