Indexed on: 27 Nov '08Published on: 27 Nov '08Published in: New Phytologist
Relationships between thallus size and growth variables were analysed for the foliose Lobaria pulmonaria and the pendulous Usnea longissima with the aim of elucidating their morphogenesis and the factors determining thallus area (A) versus biomass (dry weight (DW) gain. Size and growth data originated from a factorial transplantation experiment that included three boreal climate zones (Atlantic, suboceanic and continental), each with three successional forest stands (clear-cut, young and old). When A was replaced by the estimated photobiont layer area in an area-DW scatterplot including all thalli (n = 1080), the two separate species clusters merged into one, suggesting similar allocation patterns between photobionts and mycobionts across growth forms. During transplantation, stand-specific water availability boosted area gain in foliose transplants, consistent with a positive role of water in fungal expansion. In pendulous lichens, A gain greatly exceeded DW gain, particularly in small transplants. The A gain in U. longissima increased with increasing DW:A ratio, consistent with a reallocation of carbon, presumably mobilized from the dense central chord. Pendulous lichens with cylindrical photobiont layers harvest light from all sides. Rapid and flexible three-dimensional A gain allows the colonization of spaces between canopy branches to utilize temporary windows of light in a growing canopy. Foliose lichens with a two-dimensional photobiont layer have more coupled A and DW gains.