Monday 10 November 2014

A new species of Lichen-infecting parasitic Fungus from Scandinavia.

Lichens are symbiotic organisms, each consisting of a Fungus and an Alga, the Fungus obtaining nutrients from the substrate (surface upon which the Lichen sits), while the Alga produces carbohydrates through photosynthesis. They the Fungi and Algae involved can often form relationships with more than one member of the other group, and sometimes more complex communities, with more than one Fungus or Algae. Like many organisms, Lichens are prone to infections by parasites, which live off the nutrients and carbohydrates provided by the members of the Lichen, but provide nothing in return. Fungi of the genus Tremella are parasites of Lichen Fungi, their hyphae growing within the hyphae of the host Fungus. Some members of this group produce visible galls on the surface of the Lichen, while others produce no visible symptoms, so the true diversity of these Fungi is not well understood.

In a paper published in the journal MycoKeys on 16 September 2014, Ana Millanes of the Departamento de Biología y Geología at the Universidad ReyJuan Carlos, Paul Diederich of the Musée national d’histoire naturelle in Luxembourg, Martin Westberg of the Department of Botany at the Swedish Museum of NaturalHistory, Tommy Knutsson of Mörbylånga in Sweden and Mats Wedin, also of the Department of Botany at the Swedish Museum of Natural History, describe a new species of Lichen-parasitizing Fungi from Scandinavia.

The new species is named Tremella rhizocarpicola, in reference to its host Fungus, the Lichen forming Rhizocarpon lavatum. Tremella rhizocarpicola was found infecting Rhizocarpon lavatum growing on siliclastic rocks near large bodies of water in Sweden, Norway and the Faroe Islands. The parasite lives entirely within the hyphae of the host, but causes the formation of large, visible  black growths on the surface of the Lichen.

Macroscopic habit of Tremella rhizocarpicola on Rhizocarpon lavatum, on the north side of lake Stranddalsvatnet in Rogaland, Norway. Scale bar is 1 mm. Millanes et al. (2014).

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