Evolution of micromorphological and chemical characters in the lichen-forming fungal family Pertusariaceae

H. Thorsten Lumbsch*, Imke Schmitt, Daniel Barker, Mark Pagel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Micromorphological characters of the fruiting bodies, such as ascus-type and hymenial amyloidity, and secondary chemistry have been widely employed as key characters in Ascomycota classification. However, the evolution of these characters has yet not been studied using molecular phylogenies. We have used a combined Bayesian and maximum likelihood based approach to trace character evolution on a tree inferred from a combined analysis of nuclear and mitochondrial ribosomal DNA sequences. The maximum likelihood aspect overcomes simplifications inherent in maximum parsimony methods, whereas the Markov chain Monte Carlo aspect renders results independent of any particular phylogenetic tree. The results indicate that the evolution of the two chemical characters is quite different, being stable once developed for the medullary lecanoric acid, whereas the cortical chlorinated xanthones appear to have been lost several times. The current ascus-types and the amyloidity of the hymenial gel in Pertusariaceae appear to have been developed within the family. The basal ascus-type of pertusarialean fungi remains unknown.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-626
Number of pages12
JournalBiological journal of the linnean society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2006


  • Bayesian MCMC
  • Character evolution
  • Comparative morphology
  • Maximum likelihood
  • Molecular phylogeny


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