Browsing by Subject "FORMING ASCOMYCOTA"

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  • Kaasalainen, Ulla; Kukwa, Martin; Rikkinen, Jouko; Schmidt, Alexander R. (2019)
    Lichens, symbiotic consortia of lichen-forming fungi and their photosynthetic partners have long had an extremely poor fossil record. However, recently over 150 new lichens were identified from European Paleogene amber and here we analyse crustose lichens from the new material. Three fossil lichens belong to the extant genus Ochrolechia (Ochrolechiaceae, Lecanoromycetes) and one fossil has conidiomata similar to those produced by modern fungi of the order Arthoniales (Arthoniomycetes). Intriguingly, two fossil Ochrolechia specimens host lichenicolous fungi of the genus Lichenostigma (Lichenostigmatales, Arthoniomycetes). This confirms that both Ochrolechia and Lichenostigma already diversified in the Paleogene and demonstrates that also the specific association between the fungi had evolved by then. The new fossils provide a minimum age constraint for both genera at 34 million years (uppermost Eocene).
  • Kettunen, Elina Johanna; Schmidt, Alexander; Diederich, Paul; Grabenhorst, Heinrich; Rikkinen, Jouko (2018)
    A diversity of filamentous microfungi was discovered from thallus surfaces of epiphytic lichens preserved in Bitterfeld and Baltic amber. We report seven distinct morphologies of dematiaceous hyphomycetes, some of which closely resemble species of the extant genera Sporidesmium, Taeniolella s. lat. and Taeniolina. Both the placement of the fungi on their substrates and the exquisite preservation of delicate structures indicate that the fungi were fully developed before they were engulfed by fresh resin. The lichens probably grew on the trunks of resin producing trees and became embedded in resin flows together with their fungal associates. The findings demonstrate that a wide range of presumably specialised fungi have lived on living and decomposing lichen thalli at least since the Paleogene. The findings add an interesting new component to the as yet poorly known mycota of the ancient European amber forests.
  • Kaasalainen, Ulla Susanna; Rikkinen, Jouko Kalevi; Schmidt, Alexander (2020)
    Fruticose lichens of the genus Usnea Dill. ex Adans. (Parmeliaceae), generally known as beard lichens, are among the most iconic epiphytic lichens in modern forest ecosystems. Many of the c. 350 currently recognized species are widely distributed and have been used as bioindicators in air pollution studies. Here we demonstrate that usneoid lichens were present in the Palaeogene amber forests of Europe. Based on general morphology and annular cortical fragmentation, one fossil from Baltic amber can be assigned to the extant genus Usnea. The unique type of cortical cracking indirectly demonstrates the presence of a central cord that keeps the branch intact even when its cortex is split into vertebrae-like segments. This evolutionary innovation has remained unchanged since the Palaeogene, contributing to the considerable ecological flexibility that allows Usnea species to flourish in a wide variety of ecosystems and climate regimes. The fossil sets the minimum age for Usnea to 34 million years (late Eocene). While the other similar fossils from Baltic and Bitterfeld ambers cannot be definitely assigned to the same genus, they underline the diversity of pendant lichens in Palaeogene amber forests.
  • Juriado, Inga; Kaasalainen, Ulla; Jylhä, Maarit J; Rikkinen, Jouko (2019)
    We studied the genotype diversity of cyanobacterial symbionts in the predominately terricolous cyanolichen genus Peltigera (Peltigerales, Lecanoromycetes) in Estonia. Our sampling comprised 252 lichen specimens collected in grasslands and forests from different parts of the country, which represented all common Peltigera taxa in the region. The cyanobacteria were grouped according to their tRNA(Leu) (UAA) intron sequences, and mycobiont identities were confirmed using fungal ITS sequences. The studied Peltigera species associated with 34 different "Peltigera-type" Nostoc trnL genotypes. Some Peltigera species associated with one or a few trnL genotypes while others associated with a much wider range of genotypes. Mycobiont identity was the primary factor that determined the presence of the specific Nostoc genotype within the studied Peltigera thalli. However, the species-specific patterns of cyanobiont selectivity did not always reflect phylogenetic relationships among the studied fungal species but correlated instead with habitat preferences. Several taxa from different sections of the genus Peltigera were associated with the same Nostoc genotype or with genotypes in the same habitat, indicating the presence of functional guild structure in the photobiont community. Some Nostoc trnL genotypes were only found in the Peltigera species of moist and mesic forest environments, while another set of Nostoc genotypes was typically found in the Peltigera species of xeric habitats. Some Nostoc trnL genotypes were only found in the Peltigera taxa that are common on alvars and may have specialized to living in this unusual and threatened habitat type. (C) 2018 Elsevier Ltd and British Mycological Society. All rights reserved.