Project groups


Lichens dominate the vegetation in most polar regions. A large number of species occurring in these areas show a bipolar distribution, i.e. are found in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere. So far, little is known about the genetic diversity and population structure of these bipolar species. Such knowledge is, however, vital to assess the dispersal capacities of these ecologically important organisms and their response towards future climatic changes. Lichens are highly specialized symbiotic systems consisting of fungi and green algae or cyanobacteria and are especially sensitive towards rapid climatic changes. Lichen fungi (mycobionts) depend entirely on the presence of suitable algal partners (photobionts) in their habitat and their physiological performance. Based on DNA sequence and microsatellite data we try to reconstruct the genetic diversity and structure of photobionts and mycobionts of the shrubby lichen Cetraria aculeata collected in populations from the Antarctic northward along the Andes and the Rocky Mountains. This project shall reveal, whether Antarctic and arctic mycobiont and photobiont populations are genetically connected or isolated, and whether high mountain ranges along the Andean chain serve as stepping stones for the genetic exchange between lichen populations in both hemispheres.



Domaschke, S., Fernandez Mendoza, F., Garcia, M.A., Martín, M.P. & C. Printzen (2012) : Low genetic diversity in Antarctic populations of the lichen Cetraria aculeata and its photobiont. - Polar Research 31: 17353.

Fernández-Mendoza, F. & C. Printzen (2013) : Pleistocene expansion of the bipolar lichen Cetraria aculeata into the Southern hemisphere. - Molecular Ecology 22: 1961-1983.

Fernandez-Mendoza, F., Domaschke, S., Garcia, M.A., Jordan, P., Martin, M.P. & C. Printzen (2011) : Population structure of mycobionts and photobionts of the widespread lichen Cetraria aculeata. - Molecular Ecology 20: 1208–1232.

Huck, S., Büdel, B., Kadereit, J.W. & C. Printzen (2009) : Range-wide phylogeography of the European temperate-montane herbaceous plant Meum athamanticum Jacq.: evidence for periglacial persistence - Journal of Biogeography 36, 1588-1599.

Leavitt, S.D., Fernández-Mendoza, F., Perez-Ortega, S., Sohrabi, M., Divakar, P.K., Vondrak, J., Lumbsch, H.T. & L.L. St Clair (2013) : Local representation of global diversity in a cosmopolitan lichen-forming fungal species complex (Rhizoplaca, Ascomycota). - Journal of Biogeography 40: 1792-1806.

McCune, B. & C. Printzen (2011) : Distribution and climatic niches of the Lecanora varia group in western U.S.A. - Bibliotheca Lichenologica 106, 225-234.

Pérez-Ortega, S., Fernández Mendoza, F., Raggio, J., Vivas, M., Ascaso, C., Sancho, L.G., Printzen, C. & A. de los Ríos (2012) : Extreme phenotypic variation in Cetraria aculeata (lichenized Ascomycota): Adaptation or incidental modification? - Annals of Botany 109: 1133-1148.

Printzen, C., Domaschke, S., Fernández-Mendoza, F. & S. Pérez-Ortega (2013) : Biogeography and ecology of Cetraria aculeata, a widely distributed lichen with a bipolar distribution. In: Kansri Boonpragob, Peter Crittenden, H.Thorsten Lumbsch (Eds) Lichens: from genome to ecosystems in a changing world. - MycoKeys 6 (Special Issue): 33-53.

Printzen, C., Fernandez Mendoza, F. & S. Domaschke (2010) : Partnerwahl nach Klimazone: die Algen-Symbionten von antarktischen und arktischen Flechten ähneln einander. - Natur und Museum 140 (9/10), 256-259.

Printzen, C., Fernández-Mendoza, F., Muggia, L., Berg, G. & M. Grube (2012) : Alphaproteobacterial communities in geographically distant populations of the lichen Cetraria aculeata. - FEMS Microbiology Ecology 82: 316-325.

Printzen, C. (2009) : Uncharted terrain: The phylogeography of arctic and boreal lichens. - Plant Ecology and Diversity 1: 265-271.

Ruprecht, U., Brunauer, G. & C. Printzen (2012) : Photobiont diversity and richness in lecideoid Antarctic lichens from an ecological point of view. - Lichenologist 44: 661-678.