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Factors Affecting the Toxicity of Several Lichen Acids: Effect of pH and Lichen Acid Concentration

Charles R. Gardner and Dale M. J. Mueller
American Journal of Botany
Vol. 68, No. 1 (Jan., 1981), pp. 87-95
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2442995
Page Count: 9
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Factors Affecting the Toxicity of Several Lichen Acids: Effect of pH and Lichen Acid Concentration
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Abstract

The effect of pH 5-8 and lichen acid concentration gradients (27 x 10-3-27 x 10-6 M) on the toxicity of the following lichen acids: usnic, lecanoric, evernic, vulpinic, stictic, fumarprotocetraric, psoromic, and atranorin, on spores of Funaria hygrometrica was tested. Percent germination and sporeling growth were used as indicators of toxicity. None of the lichen acids were significantly toxic, for either percent germination or sporeling growth at concentrations equal to or below 2.7 x 10-5 M at pH 7.0, but many of the lichen acids which increased in toxicity at values different from pH 7 may have been toxic at lower concentrations if a different pH was used for the assay. Lichen acid toxicity showed a good correlation with pH for the parameter of spore germination, or sporeling growth, or both. Some lichen acids did not inhibit germination but were effective in retarding sporeling growth, or vice versa This observation is discussed in relation to changing fatty acids and other lipid composition as germination occurs. Two of the three O-methylated lichen acids (evernic and psoromic) were among the most effective in inhibiting growth over all, but at lower pH values these were less effective than non-O-methylated lichen acids. Stictic, which is also an O-methylated lichen acid, was the least effective inhibitor over all the pH values for both parameters, while vulpinic was the most toxic over all the pH values. The order of relative toxicity for the lichen acids is different, depending on the pH and concentration at which they are tested and depending on the parameter measured Thus, in an ecological sense, it is difficult to evaluate the adaptive significance of a particular compound or group of compounds without knowing what factors influence the toxicity of those compounds and how these factors vary in the organism's habitat.

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