Bioclimatic factors at an intrabiome scale are more limiting than cyanobiont availability for the lichen-forming genus Peltigera.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Premise of the study

Factors shaping spatiotemporal patterns of associations in mutualistic systems are poorly understood. We used the lichen-forming fungi Peltigera and their cyanobacterial partners Nostoc to investigate the spatial structure of this symbiosis at an intrabiome scale and to identify potential factors shaping these associations.


Ninety-three thalli were sampled in Québec, Canada, along a south-north and an east-west transect of ~1300 km each. We identified the two main partners (Peltigera species and Nostoc phylogroups) using molecular markers and modeled the effects of environmental variables and partner occurrence on Peltigera-Nostoc distributions.

Key results

Peltigera species showed a high degree of specialization toward cyanobionts, whereas two Nostoc phylogroups dominated both transects by associating with several Peltigera species. Peltigera species had narrower ranges than these two main cyanobionts. Distributions of three Peltigera species were highly associated with precipitation and temperature variables, which was not detected for Nostoc phylogroups at this spatial scale.


For these cyanolichens, factors driving patterns of symbiotic associations are scale dependent. Contrary to global-scale findings, generalist Peltigera species were not more widespread within the boreal biome than specialists. Nostoc availability was not the only driver of Peltigera species' geographic ranges; environmental factors also contributed to their intrabiome distributions. Climatic conditions (especially precipitation) limited the range of some Peltigera species more than the range of their cyanobacterial partners at an intrabiome (boreal) scale.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Lu, J; Magain, N; Miadlikowska, J; Coyle, JR; Truong, C; Lutzoni, F

Published Date

  • July 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 105 / 7

Start / End Page

  • 1198 - 1211

PubMed ID

  • 30001470

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1537-2197

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0002-9122

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/ajb2.1119


  • eng