Observation 59585: Flakea papillata O.E. Erikss.

When: 2010-11-07

Collection location: Dabney Creek, Madison Co., Arkansas, USA [Click for map]

Who: Jason Hollinger (jason)

Specimen available

growing on thinly-moss-covered limestone near creek

This looked most like an apodetiate Cladonia to me, except that the squamules are extremely thin and have no stratification (it has no well-defined cortices and medulla; it’s all the same throughout). Apparently this species has long been known to North American lichenologists (according to the abstract of a paper by Gary Perlmutter) simply as “The Thing” because of its odd morphology. It has never been found fertile. Its status as a lichen or even fungus was long questioned. However, it was found to produce zeorin, a substance primarily known from ascomycetes. Genetic work has confirmed its position within Verrucariaceae:

Flakea papillata is a predominantly tropical, widespread lichen characterized by flake-like thalli of narrowly arranged, irregularly wrinkled, small bluish-green lobes, whose taxonomic position was unclear. The lichen shows superficial similarity with either algal colonies, bryophytes or fern prothallia, but the production of zeorin and other triterpenoids supports its inclusion in the ascomycetes. Analysis of the nuclear large and small subunits rRNA sequence data of samples from different origins supports the position of F. papillata within the Verrucariaceae: it forms its own supported clade not related to the core of Agonimia, in which it has been previously placed.

(Abstract of Muggia et al. 2009. Molecular data confirm the position of Flakea papillata in the Verrucariaceae. The Bryologist 112(3):538-543.)



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Used references: Ozarks Keys by Harris & Ladd; also found images on-line from Gary Perlmutter

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Created: 2010-11-24 08:20:29 CST (-0600)
Last modified: 2010-11-24 08:36:10 CST (-0600)
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