To field test the hypothesis that lichen thalli can use environmental sources of carbon, solutions of ribitol, arabitol and mannitol were added to intact thalli of Xanthoparmelia conspersa (Ach.) Hale and a yellow species of Rhizocarpon (Rhizocarpon Ram. Em. Th. Fr. subgenus Rhizocarpon). In addition, ribitol and an arabitol/mannitol mixture were added to the marginal hypothalli of Rhizocarpon thalli after removal of the areolae. Carbohydrates were added at the beginning of 2- or 3-month growth periods for up to 15 months at concentrations approximately three times the levels estimated to be in the thalli. Addition of carbohydrates to intact thalli of both species had no effect on total radial growth but addition of mannitol significantly increased growth of X. conspersa thalli in the September/October growth period in one experiment. However, this effect was not repeated in a subsequent experiment in which different concentrations of mannitol were added to intact thalli. Addition of ribitol to hypothalli of Rhizocarpon resulted in significantly increased growth in the first few months of the experiment, growth then declining to levels below that of untreated thalli. The data suggest that although hypothalli of Rhizocarpon may have the ability to utilise exogenous carbohydrates for growth, there was little evidence that intact thalli of either species utilise environmental sources of carbon in the field.
- Xanthoparmelia conspersa (Ach.) Hale
- Rhizocarpon Ram. Em. Th. Fr. subgenus Rhizocarpon
- radial growth
- exogenous carbohydrates