Overview of Placynthiaceae family
The Placynthiaceae family is a diverse group of lichen-forming fungi within the order Lecanorales. This family includes about 45 genera and 400 species of lichens that occur worldwide, but are most abundant in the temperate regions. Most species in this family are characteristically crustose, with a thin, smooth, and often whitish or grayish thallus that can persist for years.
Taxonomy and classification
The Placynthiaceae family was first described by French botanist Edouard Bornet in 1863, based on the type genus Placynthium. The family was later re-defined based on molecular studies that showed its distinctiveness and monophyly from other lichen-forming families. The Placynthiaceae family belongs to the larger suborder Lecanorineae and is closely related to the families Lecanoraceae, Porpidiaceae, and Physciaceae.
Unique characteristics and features
One of the distinctive features of the Placynthiaceae family is the presence of specialized chemical compounds called dibenzofurans, which are also known as gyrophoric acids. These compounds are found in the cortex (outer layer) of the lichen thallus and are responsible for the yellow or brown coloration seen in many species. Another unique characteristic of this family is the frequent formation of the so-called "lichen bridges," where the thalli of two adjacent lichens fuse together, forming a joint structure.
Additionally, the Placynthiaceae family includes several lichens that are known to accumulate toxic heavy metals, such as lead, cadmium, and copper, from their environment. Some of these lichens are being studied for their potential to be used as biomonitors of pollution and as sources of bioactive compounds with medicinal properties.
Distribution of Placynthiaceae family
The Placynthiaceae family of lichens has a worldwide distribution and can be found in a variety of habitats from arctic tundra to tropical rainforests. In Europe, they are found in most countries on all types of soil, ranging from acidic to basic. They are most abundant in oceanic climates with high rainfall and humidity. In North America, they are found throughout the continental United States and Canada, where they are common in dry, rocky habitats. They are also found in parts of Central and South America, Australia, Asia, and Africa.
Habitat of Placynthiaceae family
The Placynthiaceae family is primarily found in terrestrial habitats, growing on soil, rocks, and bark of living and dead trees. They are typically found in open habitats, such as grasslands, heathlands, and deserts, but can also be found in forests and subalpine habitats. Some species are adapted to survive in extreme environments, such as those found in polar regions, deserts, and high elevations. They are also known for their ability to tolerate air pollution and thrive in urban areas.
Ecological Preferences and Adaptations of Placynthiaceae family
The Placynthiaceae family exhibits a range of ecological preferences and adaptations. Many species are tolerant of harsh environmental conditions, including desiccation, extreme temperatures, and air pollution. Some species are known for their ability to accumulate heavy metals, such as copper and zinc, and are utilized as bioindicators of environmental pollution. In addition, some species are able to tolerate high levels of UV radiation, making them adapted to live in high-elevation, polar, and desert habitats. They are also able to utilize different carbon sources, including atmospheric carbon dioxide, making them important for carbon cycling in terrestrial ecosystems.
General Morphology and Structure
The Placynthiaceae family is a group of lichen-forming fungi. The plants in this family can be found in all continents, except for Antarctica. They form crustose lichens on rocks, soil, or bark, and some species also grow on mosses, liverworts, or other lichens. The thallus of a lichen consists of two parts: a fungal layer called the mycobiont and a photosynthetic partner called the photobiont. In the Placynthiaceae family, the mycobiont is usually a member of the Ascomycota division, but it may also belong to the Basidiomycota or the Zygomycota divisions. The photobiont is usually a member of the green algal genus Trebouxia or the cyanobacterial genus Nostoc.
Anatomical features and adaptations
The lichen thallus of the Placynthiaceae family has several adaptations that enable it to survive in harsh environments. For example, the thallus may have a thick cortex that protects it from desiccation and UV radiation. The cortex may contain pigments such as atranorin or usnic acid that help to absorb UV radiation. The thallus may also have a rhizine system that anchors the lichen to its substrate and absorbs water and nutrients. The rhizines may have adapted structures such as caps or forks that increase their surface area and thus enhance water uptake. The photobiont cells may be arranged in a dense layer close to the surface of the thallus, which maximizes their exposure to light while minimizing water loss.
Variations in leaf shapes, flower structures, or other distinctive characteristics
As lichenized fungi, the plants in the Placynthiaceae family do not have leaves or flowers in the traditional sense. However, the thallus of some species may have distinctive structures that aid in identification. For example, the genus Placynthium has a lobed or branched thallus with a yellowish coloration and often grows in circular or semicircular shapes. The genus Buellia has a smooth or slightly cracked thallus that is usually gray or brown and sometimes has a white or black rim. The genus Rinodina has a blackish thallus with a white or grayish pruinose coating and may grow in concentric circles. The genus Sarcogyne has a pale or whitish thallus with red or pink apothecia (reproductive structures) that are covered in hairs. These characteristics can be used to distinguish species within the Placynthiaceae family and aid in their classification and taxonomy.
Reproductive Strategies in Placynthiaceae familyThe reproductive strategies employed by plants in the Placynthiaceae family include sexual and asexual reproduction. Many species in this family can reproduce through vegetative propagation, producing clones of the parent plant through fragmentation or budding.
Reproduction MechanismsThe Placynthiaceae family reproduces through the production of spores or seeds. Vegetative reproduction is also common in some species. Some species undergo both sexual and asexual reproduction.
Flowering Patterns and Pollination StrategiesThe Placynthiaceae family contains non-flowering, lichen-forming fungi that reproduce through fungal spores. Lichens in this family do not produce true flowers, but some species may produce fruiting bodies containing spores. As lichens do not contain chlorophyll, they are unable to produce their food and depend on photosynthetic algae or cyanobacteria. Pollination is not necessary for the reproduction of lichens and does not occur in this family.
Seed Dispersal and AdaptationsThere are no seeds in the Placynthiaceae family as the group contains lichen-forming fungi that propagate by spores. Spores are typically dispersed by wind, water, or animals. Lichens do not have roots and can attach themselves to a variety of surfaces such as rocks, bark, and soil. This ability to grow on a variety of surfaces is an adaptation that increases their chances of survival in harsh environments. Additionally, some lichens produce compounds that protect them from environmental stressors such as harsh UV radiation or heavy metal pollution.
The Placynthiaceae family includes several species known for their economic value. One of the most notable species is Usnea barbata, commonly known as Old Man's Beard. This lichen has been used in traditional medicine for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It contains usnic acid, which inhibits the growth of bacteria and fungi. Old Man's Beard is also used in the perfume industry to add a musky scent to fragrances. Another species, Xanthoparmelia scabrosa, has been used in traditional Chinese medicine as a treatment for various ailments such as allergies and respiratory issues.
Some members of the Placynthiaceae family are also used in the culinary industry. For example, Parmelia sulcata has been used as a flavoring in soups and stews in Europe and Central Asia. Additionally, several species of lichens in this family have industrial uses. Usnea species have been used to create dyes for textiles and hair. Lichens in the genus Xanthoparmelia have also been used in the tanning industry to produce leather.
The Placynthiaceae family plays an important ecological role in many ecosystems. Lichens in this family are often pioneer species that colonize barren habitats, such as bare rocks and tree bark. By doing so, they provide a substrate for other plant species to grow and thrive. The lichens also serve as a food source for a variety of animals, including insects, snails, and some mammals. Additionally, the presence of lichens in an ecosystem can indicate the overall health of the environment. They are sensitive to air pollution and can be used as bioindicators of air quality.
Many species in the Placynthiaceae family are threatened due to habitat loss, pollution, and climate change. For example, Usnea longissima, a lichen commonly found in North America, has declined due to the loss of old-growth forests. Xanthoparmelia species have also experienced population declines due to the destruction of their natural habitat. Conservation efforts are underway to protect these and other species in the Placynthiaceae family. Some organizations work to raise awareness about the importance of lichens within ecosystems and advocate for their protection. Additionally, researchers are studying the genetics and ecology of these lichens to improve conservation efforts.
- Koerberia A. Massal. - Koerberia
- Koerberia biformis A. Massal.
- Koerberia sonomensis (Tuck.) Henssen
- Leptochidium albociliatum (Desmaz.) Choisy
- Leptochidium Choisy - Leptochidium
- Leptogidium dendriscum (Nyl.) Nyl. - >>polychidium Dendriscum
- Leptogium albociliatum Desmaz. - >>leptochidium Albociliatum
- Leptogium pilosellum G. Merr. - >>leptochidium Albociliatum
- Pannaria isidiata Degel. - >>vestergrenopsis Isidiata
- Pannaria sonomensis Tuck. - >>koerberia Sonomensis
- Placynthium (Ach.) Gray - Blackthread Lichen
- Placynthium asperellum (Ach.) Trevisan - Blackthread Lichen
- Placynthium aspratile (Ach.) Henssen - >>placynthium Asperellum
- Placynthium flabellosum (Tuck.) Zahlbr. - Blackthread Lichen
- Placynthium nigrum (Hudson) Gray - Blackthread Lichen
- Placynthium petersii (Nyl.) Burnham - Peters' Blackthread Lichen
- Placynthium stenophyllum (Tuck.) Fink - Blackthread Lichen
- Placynthium stenophyllum (Tuck.) Fink var. isidiatum Henssen - Blackthread Lichen
- Placynthium subradiatum (Nyl.) Arnold - Blackthread Lichen
- Polychidium (Ach.) Gray - Polychidium
- Polychidium albociliatum (Desmaz.) Zahlbr. - >>leptochidium Albociliatum
- Polychidium contortum Henssen
- Polychidium dendriscum (Nyl.) Henssen
- Polychidium muscicola (Sw.) Gray
- Vestergrenopsis elaeina (Wahlenb.) Gyelnik
- Vestergrenopsis Gyelnik - Vestergrenopsis
- Vestergrenopsis isidiata (Degel.) E. Dahl