Submitted to: Journal of Chemical Ecology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/31/2005
Publication Date: 12/15/2005
Citation: Bialonska, D., Dayan, F.E. 2005. Chemistry of the lichen hypogymnia physodes transplanted to an industiral region. Journal of Chemical Ecology. 31(12):2975-2991.
Interpretive Summary: Lichens have been used to monitor air pollution. In the present study, the lichen Hypogymnia physodes was moved from an unpolluted area to the industrial region around the city of Krakow, Poland. The accumulation of metal in the lichen was measured. The highest concentrations of lead, cadmium, and zinc were found in lichens transplanted in vicinity of a zinc/lead smelter. Chromium and nickel accumulated in lichens close to another chemical industry plant. The effect of pollution on the secondary metabolism of lichens was studied. The level of physodic acid (a natural product unique to lichens) decreased in samples from the most polluted sites. These results suggests that physodic acid is sensitive biomarker to determine the effect of pollution on the environment.
Technical Abstract: Lichens are widely used as air pollution monitors. In the present study, thalli of Hypogymnia physodes were transplanted for 6 months to the Krakow-Silesia industrial region lacking endogenous populations of lichens due to excessive air pollution. Based on heavy metal accumulations in thalli, two of the investigated sites were classified as highly polluted. The highest concentrations of lead, cadmium, and zinc were found in lichens transplanted in vicinity of a Zn-Pb smelter. Significant accumulations of chromium and nickel were detected in Hypogymnia transplanted near a chemical industry. The level of chromium after transplantation to this site was as much as 340-fold higher than in the control lichens. Lichens often react to various kind of stress by changes in their secondary metabolism. We examined the levels of physodic acid in Hypogymnia physodes after transplantation and found significant decreases in contents of this compound in thalli from both most polluted sites in relation to the control thalli ' but the level was not changed in thalli transplanted to less polluted sites. These results point that physodic acid is sensitive to the level of air pollution and could be used as a biomarker in environmental studies.