Water status related photosynthesis and carbon isotope discrimination in species of the lichen genusPseudocyphellaria with green or blue-green photobionts and in photosymbiodemes
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- Lange, O.L., Green, T.G.A. & Ziegler, H. Oecologia (1988) 75: 494. doi:10.1007/BF00776410
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Green lichens have been shown to attain positive net photosynthesis in the presence of water vapour while blue-green lichens require liquid water (Lange et al. 1986). This behaviour is confirmed not only for species with differing photobionts in the genusPseudocyphellaria but for green and blue-green photobionts in a single joined thallus (photosymbiodeme), with a single mycobiont, and also when adjacent as co-primary photobionts. The different response is therefore a property of the photobiont. The results are consistent with published photosynthesis/water content response curves. The minimum thallus water content for positive net photosynthesis appears to be much lower in green lichens (15% to 30%, related to dry weight) compared to blue-greens (85% to 100%). Since both types of lichen rehydrate to about 50% water content by water vapour uptake only green lichens will show positive net photosynthesis. It is proposed that the presence of sugar alcohols in green algae allow them to retain a liquid pool (concentrated solution) in their chloroplasts at low water potentials and even to reform it by water vapour uptake after being dried. The previously shown difference in δ13C values between blue-green and green lichens is also retained in a photosymbiodeme and must be photobiont determined. The wide range of δ13C values in lichens can be explained by a C3 carboxylation system and the various effects of different limiting processes for photosynthetic CO2 fixation. If carboxylation is rate limiting, there will be a strong discrimination of13CO2, at high internal CO2 partial pressure. The resulting very low δ13C values (-31 to-35‰) have been found only in green lichens which are able to photosynthesize at low thallus water content by equilibraiton with water vapour. When the liquid phase diffusion of CO2 becomes more and more rate limiting and the internal CO2 pressure decreases, the13C content of the photosynthates increases and less negative δ13C values results, as are found for blue-green lichens.