Genetic diversity and photobiont associations in selected taxa of the Tephromela atra group (Lecanorales, lichenised Ascomycota)
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- Muggia, L., Grube, M. & Tretiach, M. Mycol Progress (2008) 7: 147. doi:10.1007/s11557-008-0560-6
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Mycobiont and photobiont genetic diversity was investigated in four taxa of the Tephromela atra complex, which differ in ecology and substratum preference (from siliceous rocks, limestone to bark), and are differently interpreted by taxonomists. Phylogenetic analyses were performed using mycobiont nuclear ITS, beta tubulin and homologous polyketide synthase gene (PKS) sequences obtained from freshly collected material sampled from the Mediterranean region to the Southern Alps. The silicicolous samples from the Alps form a basal lineage of the entire complex, and despite the morphological similarity, they do not form a monophyletic group with the Mediterranean samples. No resolution was found among the calcicolous and the silicicolous taxa from Mediterranean habitats, which are traditionally segregated at variety or species level. The epiphytic taxon, although nested with the other ecotypes, splits in two well-supported lineages. Among the four taxa, Tephromela grumosa is the only morphologically, chemically and genetically distinct taxon. However, it is also nested in the large T. atra complex. Phylogenetic analysis of photobionts ITS sequences revealed that thalli from the Mediterranean region are associated with two distinct lineages of Trebouxia, but the lineages are not correlated with substrate or mycobiont phenotype. The thalli from the Alps are exclusively associated with T. simplex, suggesting a protracted isolation from the other lineages.