Halotolerance in Lichens: Symbiotic Coalition Against Salt Stress

  • David Delmail
  • Martin Grube
  • Delphine Parrot
  • Jeanne Cook-Moreau
  • Joël Boustie
  • Pascal Labrousse
  • Sophie Tomasi


Lichens are among the most conspicuous and ubiquitous symbiosis on this planet. They are highly adapted to terrestrial habitats of all climatic zones including the most hostile environments on Earth, such as high altitudes in the Himalayas or the cold deserts of Antarctica. Among the extreme habitats are the littoral (or intertidal) zones of coasts. In this chapter, we present an overview of the current knowledge about the halotolerance mechanisms in lichens. Halotolerant organisms generally accumulate osmotically active solutes to cope with increasing external salinity. In intertidal lichens, mannitol could play an important role in osmoregulation. Epilichenic bacterial colonies may be also involved in limiting lichen nutrient imbalance by producing osmoprotective compounds and storing high ionic concentrations. In addition, the comparison with related inland species suggests that morphological adaptations could also be involved in adaptation to increased salt levels. Maritime species often have strongly conglutinated hyphae and small or no intercellular spaces in their thalli. So far, little genetic information exists about the genes involved in halotolerance and their regulation. Comparison of forthcoming genomic information from lichen fungi with those of other halotolerant fungi will soon help to change the picture and reveal genetic adaptations to saline environments.


Salt Stress Compatible Solute Desiccation Tolerance Lichen Species Usnic Acid 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research was supported by the Université de Rennes 1, the Université Européenne de Bretagne, the Ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche, the Institut National des Sciences Appliquées de Rennes and the UMR CNRS 6226 SCR. The authors sincerely thank Dr. Frédéric Barrière and Dr. Marie-Laurence Abasq-Paofai for technical support, Dr. Françoise Lohézic-Le Dévéhat and Friardi Ismed for providing SEM photography, and Dr. Béatrice Legouin-Gargadennec for valuable discussions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Delmail
    • 1
  • Martin Grube
    • 2
  • Delphine Parrot
    • 1
  • Jeanne Cook-Moreau
    • 3
  • Joël Boustie
    • 1
  • Pascal Labrousse
    • 4
  • Sophie Tomasi
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Pharmacognosy and Mycology – UMR CNRS 6226 ISCR PNSCMUniversity of Rennes 1 (European University of Brittany)RennesFrance
  2. 2.Institute of Plant SciencesKarl-Franzens-Universität GrazGrazAustria
  3. 3.Department of Biochemistry and Molecular GeneticsUniversity of Limoges (School of Medicine)LimogesFrance
  4. 4.Laboratory of Botany and Cryptogamy – GRESE EA 4330University of Limoges (Faculty of Pharmacy)LimogesFrance

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