Comparison of two noninvasive methods for measuring the pigment content in foliose macrolichens

  • Shuai Liu
  • Su LiEmail author
  • Xiao-Yang Fan
  • Guo-Di Yuan
  • Tao Hu
  • Xian-Meng Shi
  • Jun-Biao Huang
  • Xiao-Yan Pu
  • Chuan-Sheng Wu
Technical Communication


Chlorophyll content in lichens is routinely used as an accurate indicator of lichen vigor, interspecific differences, and the effect of site-related environmental parameters. Traditional methods of chlorophyll extraction are destructive, time-consuming, expensive, and inoperable, especially when measuring large quantities of chlorophyll. However, non-destructive methods of measurement using portable chlorophyll meters are rarely used for lichens. Considering the characteristics of lichens such as rough blade surface and absence of chlorophyll b in cyanolichens, we compared the non-destructive methods with traditional methods and evaluated their applicability in studying lichen pigment content. Two instruments, SPAD-502 and CCM-300, were used to measure the pigment content of seven foliose lichen species. These pigment readings were compared with those determined using the dimethyl sulphoxide (DMSO) extraction method. Significant correlations were observed between SPAD/CCM values and pigments (chlorophyll and total carotenoids) extracted from chlorolichens, especially species with a smooth surface. The CCM-300 was more accurate in detecting the pigment content of foliose chlorolichens. However, both instruments showed certain limitations in the determination of pigment content in cyanolichens, especially gelatinous species. For example, CCM-300 often failed to give specific values for some cyanolichen samples, and both instruments showed low measurement accuracy for cyanolichens. Based on the high correlation observed between chlorophyll meter readings and pigments extracted from chlorolichens, equations obtained in this study enabled accurate prediction of pigment content in these lichens.


CCM-300 Carotenoids Chlorophyll Dimethyl sulphoxide (DMSO) Foliose macrolichens SPAD-502 



This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 31770494, 31400384 and 31600390), Yunnan Natural Science Foundation (2016FB056), Youth Innovation Promotion Association of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) (2017441), CAS ‘Light of West China’ Program and CAS 135 program (2017XTBG-T01 and 2017XTBG-F01). We thank Messrs. Fu-Ming Ke and Shi-Shun Li for their assistance with the field experiment. We thank the Biogeochemistry Laboratory of the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Ailao Mountains National Nature Reserve and Ailaoshan Station for Subtropical Forest Ecosystem Studies for granting us permissions and facilitating this research work.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CAS Key Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical GardenChinese Academy of SciencesKunmingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Ailaoshan Station for Subtropical Forest Ecosystem StudiesJingdongPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.Anhui Province Key Laboratory of Embryo Development and Reproductive Regulation, Anhui Province Key Laboratory of Environmental Hormone and ReproductionFuyang Normal UniversityFuyangPeople’s Republic of China

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