Amphibious lichens

Ecology and evolution of amphibious lichens

Only a very limited number of lichenised fungi have successfully adopted amphibious lifestyles. The most prominent taxa in temperate fresh and saltwater habitats are some species groups of the order Verrucariales (Ascomycota). They contain aquatic to semi-aquatic species, as well as many terrestrial ones.

In fact amphibious lichens have evolved independently several times in the species-rich genus Verrucaria s.I. 

For this reason selected species groups of the order Verrucariales and their associated photobionts – the photosynthetic algal partner - were chosen as model groups to:

  • study evolutionary pathways to aquatic lifestyles in lichens
  • analyse current and historical distribution patterns in Central Europe
  • elucidate potentials for bioindication

Key research aims

By investigating the evolution, ecophysiology and ecology of these groups, we hope to make it possible to:

  • more accurately identify amphibious lichens
  • make better use of amphibious lichens in freshwater conservation assessments and in monitoring environmental change
Staff involved in this project:

H Thüs