A method for the direct detection of airborne dispersal in lichens

Eaton, S. , Zuniga, C., Czyzewski, J., Ellis, C., Genney, D. R., Haydon, D. , Mirzai, N. and Yahr, R. (2018) A method for the direct detection of airborne dispersal in lichens. Molecular Ecology Resources, 18(2), pp. 240-250. (doi: 10.1111/1755-0998.12731) (PMID:29091345)

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Abstract

This paper sets out a novel method to determine dispersal distances in lichens. Direct measurement of dispersal often remains difficult for lichens and other small inconspicuous species because of the need to track microscopic reproductive propagules, which even if they can be captured, cannot be identified using traditional morphological approaches. A low-cost device (<£200) was developed in order to trap the reproductive propagules of lichens, capable of sampling around 0.1m3 of air per minute. In parallel, molecular techniques were developed to enable species specific detection of propagules caught by the devices, with identification using novel species-specific primers and optimization of a standard DNA extraction and nested PCR protocol. The methods were tested for both their sensitivity and specificity against a suite of lichen epiphytes, differing in their reproductive mechanisms, dispersal structures, and rarity. Sensitivity tests showed that the molecular techniques could detect a single asexual propagule (soredium or isidium), or as few as 10 sexual spores. As proof of concept, propagule traps were deployed into a wooded landscape where the target epiphytes were present. Extractions from deployed propagule traps were sequenced, showing that the method was able to detect the presence of the target species in the atmosphere. As far as we are aware, this is the first attempt to use mechanized propagule traps in combination with DNA diagnostics to detect dispersal of lichens. The tests carried out here point the way for future dispersal studies of lichen epiphytes and other passively-dispersed microscopic organisms including fungi or bryophytes.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Haydon, Professor Daniel and Czyzewski, Mr Jakub and Mirzai, Mr Nosrat and Eaton, Sally
Authors: Eaton, S., Zuniga, C., Czyzewski, J., Ellis, C., Genney, D. R., Haydon, D., Mirzai, N., and Yahr, R.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
Journal Name:Molecular Ecology Resources
Publisher:Wiley
ISSN:1755-098X
ISSN (Online):1755-0998
Published Online:01 November 2017
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 John Wiley and Sons Ltd
First Published:First published in Molecular Ecology Resources 18(2):240-250
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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