Apr 10, 2020

Litter decomposition rates of biocrust-forming lichens are similar to that of vascular plants and are affected by warming in a semiarid grassland

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Miguel BerdugoF. T. Maestre


Despite the high relevance of communities dominated by lichens, mosses and cyanobacteria living on the soil surface (biocrusts) for ecosystem functioning in drylands worldwide, no study to date has investigated the decomposition of biocrust-forming lichen litter in situ. Thus, we do not know whether the drivers of its decomposition are similar to those for plant litter (e.g., importance of abiotic degradation through UV radiation), the magnitude of lichen decomposition rates and whether they will be affected by climate change. Here we report results from a litter decomposition experiment carried out with two biocrust-forming lichens (Diploschistes diacapsis and Cladonia convoluta) in central Spain. We evaluated how lichen decomposition was affected by warming, rainfall exclusion and the combination of both. We also manipulated the incidence of UV radiation using mesh material that blocked 10% or 90% of incoming UV radiation. Our results indicate that lichens decompose as fast as some plants typical of the region (k~0.3) and that the chemical composition of their thallus drives litter decomposition rates. Warming increased decomposition rates of both lichen species, and mediated the effects of photodegradation. While UV exposure...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

CLPP gene
In Vivo
Endopeptidase Clp Activity
Transformation, Genetic
Protein Degradation, Regulatory
Transcription, Genetic
Peptide Hydrolases

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