The algal partnership is associated with quantitative variation of lichen specific metabolites in Cladonia foliacea from Central and Southern Europe

Farkas E., Xu M., Muhoro A.M., Szabó K., Lengyel A., Heiðmarsson S., Viktorsson E.Ö. & Ólafsdóttir E.S.
92: 403–419
Lichen specific metabolites (LSMs) have interesting biological activities and quantitative variations may be present intraspecifically. For example, variations in medullary fumarprotocetraric acid (FA) and cortical usnic acid (UA) were observed in the lichen Cladonia foliacea, but the mechanism of variation is not well understood. The current study aimed to characterise the quantitative variation of FA and UA and to investigate the association between lichen metabolite content and ecological / biological variables. Fungal and algal trees were constructed using fungal (nrITS, RPB2) and algal (nrITS) loci, respectively. Using a chiral chromatographic method, the contents of (-)-UA were determined in 29 C. foliacea specimens and range from 6.88 to 34.27 mg/g dry wt. The FA contents were lower and varied from 1.44 to 9.87 mg/g dry wt. Although the fungal tree showed two well resolved clades, no significant differences of UA or FA contents were found between the two fungal clades. However, a significantly higher UA/FA ratio as well as a unique habitat were found to be associated with specimens which contained the alga Asterochloris lobophora than those specimens associated other Asterochloris algae. Taking all predictive variables into account (i.e. substrate type, elevation, collection season, photobiont identity), the multivariate data analysis indicated that photobiont identity explained most of the variance of LSM contents in C. foliacea. Thus future LSM biosynthetic studies should take the photobiont into consideration when dealing with intraspecific quantitative variation. Keywords: Asterochloris photobionts · Cladonia convoluta · Fumarprotocetraric acid · HPLC-PDA · UHPLC-PDA-MS · Usnic acid enantiomers.
Wednesday, 01 May 2024 21:37