Iron and phosphate uptake explains the calcifuge–calcicole behavior of the terricolous lichens Cladonia furcata subsp. furcata and C. rangiformis

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Mechanisms causing the calcifuge–calcicole behavior of lichens are largely unexplored. Studying the case examples of two closely related terricolous lichens, the calcifuge Cladonia furcata subsp. furcata and the calcicole C. rangiformis, we found that preference for acidic or calcareous soils in these lichens is related to iron and phosphate uptake as in vascular plants. In laboratory studies, the calcicole species was more efficient in the intracellular uptake of Fe3+ and phosphate at pH 8 than the calcifuge species. At pH 3, intracellular uptake of Fe2+ in the calcicole species significantly exceeded that in the calcifuge species suggesting that calcicole lichens suffer from toxicity symptoms by excess Fe2+ at acidic sites. Though these observations parallel findings from calcifuge and calcicole vascular plants, mechanisms leading to the different iron and phosphate uptake characteristics in the studied calcifuge and calcicole lichens may differ from those in vascular plants and should be the topic of future research. A role of the depside atranorin in facilitating iron uptake by reducing Fe3+ in the apoplast is hypothesized.

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