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BIOBIOT-Biologi, bioteknologi, Mat. Nat.

Speciation and species recognition in lichens

Awarded: NOK 0.40 mill.

Lichens result from a mutualistic symbiosis between a fungus and an alga, and as such they provide unique features. Unique to the lichens are asexual reproductive strategies that involve fungus and alga simultaneously, and in numerous cases sexual reprodu ction is rare or absent. Information is scarce on genetic variability of asexual taxa, and it is completely unknown what processes are underlying the evolution of asexual taxa from asexual ancestors, a scenario which molecular phylogenies have been demons trated to occur. Lichens also produce a high number of unique secondary metabolites, 'lichen substances'. Secondary metabolite patterns may or may not display infraspecific variation. Although secondary metabolites have been used extensively in lichen sys tematics, it is unknown to what extent chemical variation reflects infraspecific phylogeny. Furthermore, there are numerous cases of lichen species occurring in discrete habitats with little or no morphological separation. Again, nothing is known about th e genetic background to this peculiar pattern. This project is concerned with the study of of these problems, using DNA sequence data from highly variable markers. Sequence data will be collapsed into haplotype networks. Through described meth ods for statistical testing, species status can be inferredand an insight into the speciation processes can be provided.

Funding scheme:

BIOBIOT-Biologi, bioteknologi, Mat. Nat.

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