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Antarctic Epilithic Lichens as Niches for Black Meristematic Fungi

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Department of Ecological and BiologicalSciences (DEB), University of Tuscia, Largo dell'Università snc, Viterbo 01100, Italy
2
Institute of Plant Sciences, Karl-Franzens-University Graz, Holteigasse 6, A-8010 Graz, Austria
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Biology 2013, 2(2), 784-797; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology2020784
Received: 11 March 2013 / Revised: 5 April 2013 / Accepted: 24 April 2013 / Published: 17 May 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polar Microbiology: Recent Advances and Future Perspectives)
Sixteen epilithic lichen samples (13 species), collected from seven locations in Northern and Southern Victoria Land in Antarctica, were investigated for the presence of black fungi. Thirteen fungal strains isolated were studied by both morphological and molecular methods. Nuclear ribosomal 18S gene sequences were used together with the most similar published and unpublished sequences of fungi from other sources, to reconstruct an ML tree. Most of the studied fungi could be grouped together with described or still unnamed rock-inhabiting species in lichen dominated Antarctic cryptoendolithic communities. At the edge of life, epilithic lichens withdraw inside the airspaces of rocks to find conditions still compatible with life; this study provides evidence, for the first time, that the same microbes associated to epilithic thalli also have the same fate and chose endolithic life. These results support the concept of lichens being complex symbiotic systems, which offer attractive and sheltered habitats for other microbes. View Full-Text
Keywords: black meristematic fungi; Dothideomycetes; Eurotiomycetes; lichen-associated fungi; phylogeny black meristematic fungi; Dothideomycetes; Eurotiomycetes; lichen-associated fungi; phylogeny
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Selbmann, L.; Grube, M.; Onofri, S.; Isola, D.; Zucconi, L. Antarctic Epilithic Lichens as Niches for Black Meristematic Fungi. Biology 2013, 2, 784-797.

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