Overview of Micareaceae Plant Family
Micareaceae is a small family of fungi belonging to the order Russulales. It includes approximately 40 species that are found in temperate regions of Europe, North America, and Asia. The genus Micarea, which is the type genus of the family, includes about 30 species.
The family Micareaceae was first described by the Swedish mycologist Elias Magnus Fries in 1821. The taxonomy and classification of this family have undergone significant changes over the years. Initially, it was placed under the order Lecanorales in the class Ascomycetes. Later, it was transferred to the order Graphidales. Today, it is considered a member of the order Russulales in the division Ascomycota.
Unique Characteristics of Micareaceae
The Micareaceae family is characterized by small, crustose lichens that grow on rocks, bark, mosses, and soil. They usually have a white to gray or yellowish thallus and are typically less than 1 cm in size. The lichens in this family have a symbiotic relationship with cyanobacteria or green algae. They produce simple, stalkless apothecia with a smooth or slightly roughened surface. The asci are cylindrical and contain eight colorless spores that are hyaline and finely warty.
One unique characteristic of the Micareaceae family is the presence of lichexanthone, a yellow pigment found in the thallus and apothecia. This pigment is not found in any other group of lichens and has been used as a diagnostic marker for the family.
Distribution of Micareaceae family
The Micareaceae family is a small family consisting of only one genus, Micarea. The family is distributed worldwide, but the majority of species are found in temperate regions, especially in the Northern Hemisphere. Many species have been reported from Europe, including the British Isles, Scandinavia, and the Mediterranean region. Other regions where the family is found include Asia, Africa, Australia, and South America.
Habitats of Micareaceae family
Plants from the Micareaceae family can be found in various habitats such as rock crevices, cracks, and fissures in rocks, soil, tree trunks, and bark. They tend to grow on shaded and humid substrates and are commonly associated with acidic rocks, especially siliceous ones. Some species of Micarea grow on tree branches, and others live as epiphytes, which means they grow on the surface of other plants, mostly on bryophytes.
Ecological preferences and adaptations
The Micareaceae family exhibits various ecological preferences, including high humidity, cool temperatures, and shaded habitats. Most species require a stable, moist, and nutrient-poor substratum to establish and grow. They have adapted to live in low-nutrient environments by utilizing alternative nutrient sources, such as atmospheric deposition. Their small size and distinct morphology allow them to survive and thrive in extreme conditions, such as high altitudes and Arctic regions. Additionally, some species can withstand desiccation and are capable of resurrection upon rehydration.
Morphology and Structure
The Micareaceae family consists of small plants that are usually less than 30 cm in height. They are characterized by their fleshy, succulent leaves that store water for periods of drought, as well as their small, unassuming flowers that are typically borne on one-sided inflorescences.
The stem of plants in the Micareaceae family is usually fleshy and thick, aiding in the storage of water, and may be elongated or clumped together. The leaves are typically arranged in an opposite pattern on the stem, with a narrow stalk and a fleshy, elliptical blade. The blade is typically around 1-2 cm long, and may be covered in small hairs or have a rough surface.
Anatomical Features and Adaptations
Plants in the Micareaceae family have several adaptations that enable them to survive in their mostly arid habitats. The fleshy, succulent leaves store water and provide a way for the plant to survive extended periods of drought. The leaves often have a thin cuticle and few stomata, reducing water loss through transpiration.
Leaves of plants in the Micareaceae family have a thickened midrib and several bundles of vascular tissue, which allow for the efficient transfer of water and nutrients throughout the plant. The stem may also have specialized tissue for water storage and transport.
Variations in Leaf Shapes, Flower Structures, and Other Characteristics
Although genera in the Micareaceae family share several common characteristics, there may be variations in leaf shape and flower structure among different members. For example, some species in the genus Micarea have flat, spreading leaves, while others have curled or rolled leaves.
Flowers in the Micareaceae family are typically small and unassuming, with a reduced number of parts. However, there may be variations in the shape and color of these flowers. Certain genera, such as Leucodon, have slightly larger flowers with a more prominent corolla.
Some members of the Micareaceae family have adaptations for reproduction via fragmentation. For example, some species of Micarea may break off small pieces of the stem or leaves, which can then grow into new plants.
In general, the Micareaceae family is relatively uniform in appearance, but there may be subtle variations in leaf shape, flower structure, and reproductive adaptations among different genera and species.
Reproductive Strategies in the Micareaceae Family
Plants of the Micareaceae family employ various reproductive strategies, ranging from self-pollination to cross-pollination and even clonal reproduction. These mechanisms ensure the survival and propagation of the species in different environments and conditions.
Mechanisms of Reproduction
Micareaceae plants reproduce both sexually and asexually. Sexual reproduction involves the fusion of male and female gametes, resulting in the formation of seeds. Asexual reproduction, on the other hand, involves the production of new individuals from vegetative parts such as stems, roots, and leaves.
Some plants in the Micareaceae family have developed unique and specialized methods of reproduction, such as apomixis, which involves the development of new embryos without fertilization. This process results in genetic clones of the parent plant, which can be advantageous for rapid colonization or adaptation to new environments.
Flowering Patterns and Pollination Strategies
Most plants in the Micareaceae family have small flowers produced in clusters. The flowers are often inconspicuous and lack bright colors or strong odors that attract pollinators. Instead, they rely on wind or self-pollination to fertilize the female flowers.
However, some species of Micareaceae have highly specialized flowers that depend on specific pollinators. For example, certain species have evolved long, tubular flowers that are only accessible to long-tongued bees, which are the only pollinators capable of reaching the nectar and transferring pollen.
Seed Dispersal Methods and Adaptations
Once fertilization occurs, Micareaceae plants produce small, winged seeds that can be dispersed far from the parent plant. The seeds' wings allow them to be carried by the wind, and they can also be dispersed by animals that eat the fruit and excrete the seeds in a new location.
Some plants in the Micareaceae family have also developed unique adaptations to help with seed dispersal. For example, some species have hooks or barbs on the outer seed coat, which can stick to the fur or feathers of animals passing by and be carried to a new location.
Economic Importance of the Micareaceae Family
The Micareaceae family consists of various species of plants that have significant economic value due to their medicinal, culinary, and industrial uses.
Medicinal use: The plants of the Micareaceae family have been traditionally used for treating various ailments such as headaches, stomach disorders, and colds. Some species have been found to have anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic properties. Additionally, certain plants of this family have been used as remedies for specific conditions, such as the bark of Micarea prasina for treating malaria.
Culinary use: Certain species of the Micareaceae family have culinary uses as well. For instance, the edible lichen Micarea denigrata is used in northern regions of Scandinavia as a seasoning in soups and stews. The plant is also used to flavor some types of beers.
Industrial use: Some species of the family have industrial uses, specifically in dyeing and tanning. The species Micarea dispersa produces red-brown dyes that have been used in the textile industry. The plant is also used in the tanning industry for producing leather.
Ecological Importance of the Micareaceae Family
The Micareaceae family plays a crucial role in the ecosystem, especially in nutrient cycling and symbiotic relationships.
Nutrient cycling: The lichens of the family play a significant role in nutrient cycling, as they are a significant source of nitrogen, which is essential for plant growth. The lichens of the family also help in weathering minerals, which affects soil quality.
Symbiotic relationships: The lichens of the Micareaceae family form mutualistic associations with algae and cyanobacteria. The lichens provide shelter and nutrients for the algae or cyanobacteria, while the algae or cyanobacteria provide the lichens with sugars from photosynthesis. These mutualistic relationships are essential for the survival of both the lichen and the algae or cyanobacteria.
Conservation Status and Efforts
Several species of the Micareaceae family are threatened due to habitat destruction, pollution, and climate change. For instance, the Micarea prasina species is listed as endangered in Switzerland due to habitat loss. Similarly, the Micarea denigrata species is threatened in Canada due to pollution and disturbances of its habitat.
Efforts to conserve species in the Micareaceae family include the protection of their habitats and the establishment of protected areas. The identification of areas with high species diversity and endemism provides information for the designation of protected areas. Additionally, research is ongoing to identify and classify the species within the family accurately.
- Bacidia chlorosticta (Tuck.) A. Schneider - >>micarea Chlorostictica
- Bacidia endocyanea (Tuck. ex Willey) Zahlbr. - >>micarea Endocyanea
- Bacidia lignaria (Ach.) Lettau - >>micarea Lignaria
- Bacidia melaena (Nyl.) Zahlbr. - >>micarea Melaena
- Bacidia trisepta (Hellbom) Zahlbr. - >>micarea Peliocarpa
- Catillaria micrococca (Korber) Th. Fr. - >>micarea Prasina
- Catillaria prasina (Fr.) Th. Fr. - >>micarea Prasina
- Helocarpon crassipes Th. Fr.
- Helocarpon Th. Fr. - Helocarpon
- Lecidea adirondackii H. Magn. - >>psilolechia Clavulifera
- Lecidea aniptiza Stirton - >>micarea Denigrata
- Lecidea assimilata Nyl. - >>micarea Assimilata
- Lecidea chalybeiza Nyl. - >>micarea Erratica
- Lecidea crassipes (Th. Fr.) Nyl. - >>helocarpon Crassipes
- Lecidea dilutiuscula Nyl. - >>micarea Bauschiana
- Lecidea erratica Korber - >>micarea Erratica
- Lecidea lucida (Ach.) Ach. - >>psilolechia Lucida
- Lecidea lynceola Th. Fr. - >>micarea Bauschiana
- Lecidea misella (Nyl.) Nyl. - >>micarea Misella
- Lecidea punctella (Willey) Zahlbr. - >>micarea Rhabdogena
- Lecidea suballinita Nyl. - >>micarea Ternaria
- Lecidea suberratica Lowe - >>micarea Erratica
- Lecidea sylvicola Flotow - >>micarea Sylvicola
- Micarea assimilata (Nyl.) Coppins - Dot Lichen
- Micarea bauschiana (Korber) V. Wirth & Vezda - Bausch's Dot Lichen
- Micarea botryoides (Nyl.) Coppins - Dot Lichen
- Micarea chlorostictica (Tuck.) R. C. Harris - Dot Lichen
- Micarea cinerea (Schaerer) Hedl. - Dot Lichen
- Micarea crassipes (Th. Fr.) Coppins - >>helocarpon Crassipes
- Micarea denigrata (Fr.) Hedl. - Dot Lichen
- Micarea elachista (Korber) Coppins & R. Sant. - Dot Lichen
- Micarea endocyanea (Tuck. ex Willey) R. C. Harris - Dot Lichen
- Micarea erratica (Korber) Hertel, Rambold & Pietschmann - Erratic Dot Lichen
- Micarea Fr. - Dot Lichen
- Micarea globularis (Ach. ex Nyl.) Hedl. - >>micarea Misella
- Micarea globulosella (Nyl.) Coppins - Globe Dot Lichen
- Micarea hedlundii Coppins - Hedlund's Dot Lichen
- Micarea incrassata Hedl. - Dot Lichen
- Micarea lignaria (Ach.) Hedl. - Dot Lichen
- Micarea lithinella (Nyl.) Hedl. - Dot Lichen
- Micarea lutulata (Nyl.) Coppins - Dot Lichen
- Micarea melaena (Nyl.) Hedl. - Dot Lichen
- Micarea melanobola (Nyl.) Coppins - Dot Lichen
- Micarea misella (Nyl.) Hedl. - Dot Lichen
- Micarea nitschkeana (J. Lahm ex Rabenh.) Harm. - Nitschke's Dot Lichen
- Micarea peliocarpa (Anzi) Coppins & R. Sant. - Dot Lichen
- Micarea perparvula (Nyl.) Coppins & Printzen - Dot Lichen
- Micarea prasina Fr. - Dot Lichen
- Micarea rhabdogena (Norm.) Hedl. - Dot Lichen
- Micarea subviolescens (H. Magn.) Coppins - Dot Lichen
- Micarea sylvicola (Flotow) Vezda & V. Wirth - Dot Lichen
- Micarea ternaria (Nyl.) Vezda - Dot Lichen
- Micarea trisepta (Hellbom) Wetmore - >>micarea Peliocarpa
- Micarea tuberculata (Sommerf.) R. Anderson - Tubercle Dot Lichen
- Micarea turfosa (A. Massal.) Du Rietz - Dot Lichen
- Micarea violacea (Crouan ex Nyl.) Hedl. - >>micarea Peliocarpa
- Micarea vulpinaris (Nyl.) Muhr - Dot Lichen
- Psilolechia A. Massal. - Psilolechia
- Psilolechia clavulifera (Nyl.) Coppins
- Psilolechia lucida (Ach.) Choisy
- Scutula miliaris (Wallr.) Trevisan
- Scutula stereocaulorum (Ach.) Korber
- Scutula tuberculosa (Th. Fr.) Rehm - >>scutula Miliaris
- Scutula Tul. - Scutula