Development of areolae and growth of the peripheral prothallus in the crustose lichen Rhizocarpon geographicum: an image analysis study

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  • R.A. Armstrong

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Areolae of the crustose lichen Rhizocarpon geographicum (L.) DC., are present on the peripheral prothallus (marginal areolae) and also aggregate to form confluent masses in the centre of the thallus (central areolae). To determine the relationships between these areolae and whether growth of the peripheral prothallus is dependent on the marginal areolae, the density, morphology, and size frequency distributions of marginal areolae were measured in 23 thalli of R. geographicum in north Wales, UK using image analysis (Image J). Size and morphology of central areolae were also studied across the thallus. Marginal areolae were small, punctate, and occurred in clusters scattered over the peripheral prothallus while central areolae were larger and had a lobed structure. The size-class frequency distributions of the marginal and central areolae were fitted by power-law and log-normal models respectively. In 16 out of 23 thalli, central areolae close to the outer edge were larger and had a more complex lobed morphology than those towards the thallus centre. Neither mean width nor radial growth rate (RaGR) of the peripheral prothallus were correlated with density, diameter, or area fraction of marginal areolae. The data suggest central areolae may develop from marginal areolae as follows: (1) marginal areolae develop in clusters at the periphery and fuse to form central areolae, (2) central areolae grow exponentially, and (3) crowding of central areolae results in constriction and fragmentation. In addition, growth of the peripheral prothallus may be unrelated to the marginal areolae.



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-15
Number of pages9
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2013

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  • rhizocarpon geographicum, size distribution, radial growth rate, central areolae, marginal areolae, prothallus

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