Diversity of Endolichenic Fungi Associated with the Fruticose Lichen Ramalina
Thomas Edison E. dela Cruz1,2,4*, Ghimel P. Espinosa1, Melfei E. Bungihan1,3,4, and Sittie Aisha B. Macabago1,2,4*
1Fungal Biodiversity, Ecogenomics & Systematics-metabolomics (FBeS) Group, Research Center for the Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Santo Tomas, España Blvd. 1015 Manila, Philippines,
2Department of Biological Sciences, College of Science, University of Santo Tomas, España Blvd. 1015 Manila, Philippines,
3Department of Chemistry, College of Science, University of Santo Tomas, España Blvd. 1015 Manila, Philippines
4Biological Sciences/Chemical Sciences Division, National Research Council of the Philippines, Bicutan 1631 Taguig City, Philippines
The fruticose lichen Ramalina, described for its flattened, strapped-like thalli, is known for its unique bioactive secondary metabolites. Interestingly, thriving within its vegetative thalli is a group of associated microorganisms, the Endolichenic Fungi (ELF). Like fungal endophytes in plants, ELF in lichens protect their hosts and support their growth. We ask then the question: how diverse are the endolichenic fungi within the lichen Ramalina? Does geographical origin influence ELF diversity? We collected 23 Ramalina specimens from five sampling localities within the islands of the Philippines. These were surface sterilized by successive treatment of EtOH and NaOCl for ELF isolation. A total of 30 explants per lichen specimen was plated, from which the number of isolated ELF per morphospecies was counted and used to assess species diversity using the online software PAST. Our research isolated a total of 609 ELF, distributed as follows: Batangas (195 isolates, 8 morphospecies), Cavite (88 isolates, 7 morphospecies), Laguna (41 isolates, 6 morphospecies), Guimaras Island (122 isolates, 5 morphospecies), and Iloilo (163 isolates, 7 morphospecies). Diversity assessment between the sampling localities showed higher diversity values in Cavite (H=1.65, 1-D=0.76, E=0.74, FAI=1.79) and Laguna (H=1.60, 1-D=0.77, E=0.82, FAI=1.94) than in Batangas (H=1.61, 1-D=0.76, E=0.62, FAI=1.68), followed by Guimaras Island (H=1.56, 1-D=0.78, E=0.95, FAI=1.05) and Iloilo (H=1.54, 1-D=0.76, E=0.67, FAI =1.49). Our study highlighted the enormous diversity of endolichenic fungi living within Philippine Ramalina.