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The weathering action of saxicolous lichens in maritime Antarctica

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Xanthoria elegans (Link) Th Fr. and Lecidea lapicida (Ach.) were studied on volcanic andesite, and Rhizocarpon geographicum (L.) DC. and Bacidia stipata Lamb on a volcanigenic sediment, using light microscopy, infrared spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction and transmission electron microscopy. Feldspars were present in the rocklichen interface to a lesser extent than in the underlying rock. R. geographicum was found to alter the minerals in the rock on which it grew without producing any new minerals in the rock/lichen interface, in contrast to the observations for this species on granite in temperate regions. Beneath of the thallus of L. lapicida there was calcium oxalate and some micas of the illite type, which may have been degradation products of various phyllosilicates in the rock. B. stipata, an endemic Antarctic lichen, had the greatest capacity to weather the rock and had weddellite (dihydrate calcium oxalate) and calcite in the contact area as well as many bacteria. The presence of crystalline oxalate, imogolite, allophane, carbonates (calcite) and amorphous material not found in the parent rock indicates biomineralization processes attributable to the lichens.

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Ascaso, C., Sancho, L.G. & Rodriguez-Pascual, C. The weathering action of saxicolous lichens in maritime Antarctica. Polar Biol 11, 33–39 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00236519

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  • Transmission Electron Microscopy
  • Calcite
  • Oxalate
  • Infrared Spectroscopy
  • Dihydrate