Molecular phylogeny and symbiotic selectivity of the green algal genus Dictyochloropsis s.l. (Trebouxiophyceae): a polyphyletic and widespread group forming photobiont-mediated guilds in the lichen family Lobariaceae

Francesco Dal Grande, Andreas Beck, Carolina Cornejo, Garima Singh, Saran Cheenacharoen, Matthew P Nelsen, Christoph Scheidegger
New Phytologist 2014, 202 (2): 455-70
Dictyochloropsis s.l. is an ecologically important, common but little-studied genus of green algae. Here, we examined the diversity and host selectivity of algae attributed to this genus at both species-to-species and species-to-community levels. We conducted a molecular investigation of 15 cultured strains and several lichen photobionts, using 18S rRNA, rbcL and ITS sequence data. We further used seven alga-specific microsatellite markers to study algal sharing among fungi of the family Lobariaceae in two populations in Madeira and Taiwan (454 lichens). We found that the genus Dictyochloropsis s.l. is polyphyletic. Dictyochloropsis clade 1 comprises only free-living algae whereas Dictyochloropsis clade 2 includes lichenized algae as well as free-living algae. Fungal selectivity towards algae belonging to Dictyochloropsis clade 2 is high. Selectivity varies geographically, with photobionts being restricted to a single region. Finally, we showed that Dictyochloropsis clade 2 individuals are shared among different fungal hosts in communities of lichens of the Lobariaceae. As for other green algal lineages, there is a high amount of cryptic diversity in Dictyochloropsis. Furthermore, co-evolution between Dictyochloropsis clade 2 algae and representatives of the Lobariaceae is manifested at the community level, with several unrelated fungal species being horizontally connected by shared photobiont clones.

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