Lichen Photosynthesis. Scaling from the Cellular to the Organism Level

  • Miloš BartákEmail author
Part of the Advances in Photosynthesis and Respiration book series (AIPH, volume 39)


Photosynthesis in lichens is intimately linked to the photosynthetic capacities of the photobiont, i.e. autotrophic algae and cyanobacteria, that form the lichen association together with a fungal partner. Lichen photosynthesis in nature is also affected by a complex mixture of internal and external factors.

Intrathalline locatization of photobiont cells, structure of photobiont layer, functional photobiont-mycobiont interlink, and physico-chemical properties of the fungal part of thallus are considered important internal characteristics affecting photosynthesis and utilization of photosynthetic products in lichens. In this chapter, a brief introduction into the anatomy and morphology is provided from a view point of function. Special attention is given to cellular structure of photobionts, and especially to the chloroplast of unicellular alga Trebouxia, the most abundant symbiotic alga in lichen association. Since lichens are typical poikilohydric organism with no active control of their hydration status, the photosynthetic responses of lichens to full, partial and severely limited water supply are described. In addition the protective mechanisms activated during thallus desiccation are discussed. Several aspects of lichen photosynthesis including light-response curves, photoinhibition, activation of photoprotective mechanisms and reactive oxygen species-induced changes in the amount and activity of antioxidative substances are reviewed. Lichens can photosynthesize over a wide temperature range, including subzero temperature. The photobiont also exhibits response depending on nitrogen availability and exposure to heavy metals.


Chlorophyll Fluorescence Lichen Species Chlorophyll Fluorescence Parameter Usnic Acid High Light Treatment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



– Ascorbate peroxidase;


– Carbonic anhydrase;


– Catalase;


– Carbon concentrating mechanism;


– Deepoxidation state of xantophyll-cycle pigments;


– Dry weight;


– Background chlorophyll fluorescence;


– Maximal fluorescence yield;


– Variable chlorophyll fluorescence;


– Potential quantum yield of photochemical processes in photosystem II;


– Fresh weight;


– Reduced glutathione;


– Oxidised glutathione;


– Non-photochemical quenching;


– Photosynthetically active radiation;


– Net photosynthesis;


– Maximum rate of net photosynthesis;


– Photosystem II;


– Effective quantum yield of photochemical processes in photosystem II;


– Energy dependendt quenching;


– Photoinhibitory quenching;


– State 1-state 2 transition quenching;


– Reactive oxygen species;


– Ribulose bis phosphate carboxylase oxygenase;


– Relative water contents;


– Superoxid dismutase;


– Ultraviolet radion (B);


– Ultraviolet radion (B);


– Water potential



I am very thankful to my colleagues from the Laboratory of Photosynthetic Processes (Masaryk University, Brno) who have collaborated with me in many field- and laboratory-based studies focussed on ecophysiology of lichen photosynthesis within last decade. Their particular help during the preparation of manuscript of this chapter is also acknowledged.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Science, Department of Experimental BiologyMasaryk UniversityBrnoCzech Republic

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