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Ultrastructural and Biogeochemical Features of Microbiotic Soil Crusts and their Implications in a Semi-Arid Habitat

AuthorsSouza-Egipsy, Virginia CSIC ORCID ; Ascaso, Carmen CSIC ORCID ; Wierzchos, Jacek CSIC ORCID
Microbiotic crust
Soil crust
Issue Date2002
PublisherTaylor & Francis
CitationGeomicrobiology Journal 19: 567-580 (2002)
AbstractThis investigation was designed to explore the relationships between lichen symbionts (phycobiont and mycobiont) and the substrate on which they grow by examining the chemical and ultrastructural features of the lichen-soil interface. These lichens form an integral part of microbiotic soil crusts. Fragments of three different lichen biotypes growing over gypsum crystals and marls were xed and embedded in resin. The lichensubstratuminterface was then examined by scanning electron microscopy with backscattered electron imaging. In situ observation, microanalytical (EDS), and FT-Raman plus infrared spectroscopy of the lichen-substratum interface indicated that different ultrastructural features of the mycobiont were related to biogeochemical processes and Ca2C distribution in the soil crust. Phycobionts were observed to make direct contact with the substratum and to be surrounded by a nondifferentiated thallus structure. These observations suggest that they can grow outside the thallus in the early stages of lichen development in the semi-arid conditions of their habitat. The particular ultrastructural features of the lichen thallus and of the lichen-substratum interface appear to have marked effects on runoff phenomena and ponding generation of the surface.
Description14 pages, figures, and tables statistics.
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