Chloroidium phycobionts (Watanabeales, Trebouxiophyceae) partner with lecanoralean mycobionts in foliicolous lichen communities of Tenerife (Canary Islands) and Navarra (Iberian Peninsula), Spain

Sanders W.B., de los Ríos A. & Pérez-Ortega S.
The Lichenologist
56(2-3): 107-119
While the diversity of foliicolous lichen-forming fungi has been explored in substantial depth, relatively little attention has been paid to their algal symbionts. We studied the unicellular green phycobionts of the lecanoralean lichens Bacidina (Ramalinaceae), Byssoloma, Fellhanera and Tapellaria (Pilocarpaceae) and graphidalean Gyalectidium (Gomphillaceae) from two extratropical foliicolous communities in continental Spain and the Canary Islands. We examined the pyrenoids of algal symbionts within thalli using TEM, and obtained several algal nrSSU and rbcL sequences from whole thalli, and also from cultures isolated from some of these lichens. Pyrenoid structure and molecular sequence data provided support for recognizing Chloroidium (Watanabeales, Trebouxiophyceae) as phycobiont in thalli of Byssoloma subdiscordans and Fellhanera bouteillei (Pilocarpaceae) in both communities. Bacidina apiahica (Ramalinaceae) and Tapellaria epiphylla (Pilocarpaceae) likewise appeared to partner with Chloroidium based on the presence of the same pyrenoid type, although we were able to obtain a phycobiont sequence only from a culture isolate of the latter. These results contrast with those obtained previously from a foliicolous lichen community in southern Florida, which revealed only strains of Heveochlorella (Jaagichlorella) as phycobiont of foliicolous Pilocarpaceae and Gomphillaceae. On the other hand, the pyrenoid we observed in the phycobionts associated with Gyalectidium setiferum and G. minus corresponded to that of Heveochlorella (Jaagichlorella). However, the poor quality of the phycobiont sequence data obtained from G. minus, probably due to the presence of epibiontic algae, could not provide additional perspective on the pyrenoid structure observations. Nonetheless, clear differences in pyrenoid ultrastructure can allow Chloroidium and Heveochlorella phycobionts to be distinguished from each other in TEM. Our results indicate a greater diversity of unicellular green-algal symbionts in foliicolous communities from Spain than previously observed in other geographical areas, and suggest that further studies focused on symbiont pairing in these communities might reveal distinctive and varied patterns of phycobiont preference. Heveochlorella, Jaagichlorella, photobiont, phycobiont, symbiosis
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