Organisms Diversity & Evolution

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 447–458 | Cite as

Hidden diversity in the morphologically variable script lichen (Graphis scripta) complex (Ascomycota, Ostropales, Graphidaceae)

  • Ekaphan Kraichak
  • Robert Lücking
  • Andre Aptroot
  • Andreas Beck
  • Patrick Dornes
  • Volker John
  • James C. Lendemer
  • Matthew P. Nelsen
  • Gerhard Neuwirth
  • Aparna Nutakki
  • Sittiporn Parnmen
  • Mohammad Sohrabi
  • Tor Tønsberg
  • H. Thorsten Lumbsch
Original Article


Graphis scripta, or script lichen, is a well-known species of crustose lichenized fungi, widely distributed in the temperate region of the Northern Hemisphere. It is now considered to be a species complex, but because of the lack of secondary chemistry and paucity of measurable morphological characters, species delimitation within the complex has been challenging and is thus far based on apothecium and ascospore morphology. In this study, we employed molecular as well as morphological data to assess phylogenetic structure and delimitation of lineages within the G. scripta complex. We generated sequences for four genetic markers (mtSSU, nuLSU, RPB2, and EF-1) and performed phylogenetic analyses. The resulting trees were used to determine the number of distinct lineages by applying a general mixed Yule-coalescent (GMYC) model and species tree estimation through maximum likelihood (STEM). Our analyses suggest between six and seven putative species within the G. scripta complex. However, these did not correspond to the taxa that were recently distinguished based on apothecium morphology and could not be circumscribed with the morphological characters that were traditionally used in the classification of the complex. Any formal taxonomic treatment will require additional sampling and evaluation of additional traits that potentially can characterize these clades.


Crustose lichens General mixed Yule-coalescent method Species delimitation Species trees Taxonomy 



We would like to thank Kyle Huff (Roosevelt University) for helping with morphological measurements. The molecular work was performed at the Pritzker Laboratory for Molecular Systematics and Evolution at The Field Museum (Chicago).


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Copyright information

© Gesellschaft für Biologische Systematik 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ekaphan Kraichak
    • 1
    • 2
  • Robert Lücking
    • 1
  • Andre Aptroot
    • 3
  • Andreas Beck
    • 4
  • Patrick Dornes
    • 5
  • Volker John
    • 6
  • James C. Lendemer
    • 7
  • Matthew P. Nelsen
    • 1
  • Gerhard Neuwirth
    • 8
  • Aparna Nutakki
    • 9
  • Sittiporn Parnmen
    • 10
  • Mohammad Sohrabi
    • 11
  • Tor Tønsberg
    • 12
  • H. Thorsten Lumbsch
    • 1
  1. 1.Science and EducationThe Field MuseumChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Botany, Faculty of ScienceKasetsart UniversityBangkokThailand
  3. 3.ABL HerbariumSoestThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Botanische StaatssammlungMünchenGermany
  5. 5.PforzheimGermany
  6. 6.Pfalzmuseum für NaturkundeBad DürkheimGermany
  7. 7.Institute of Systematic BotanyNew York Botanical GardenBronxUSA
  8. 8.Ried/TumeltshamAustria
  9. 9.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  10. 10.Department of Medical SciencesMinistry of Public HealthNonthaburiThailand
  11. 11.Iranian Research Organization for Science and Technology (IROST)TehranIran
  12. 12.Museum of Natural HistoryUniversity of BergenBergenNorway

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