Phylogeny of the genus Phacopsis (Lecanorales)

Derek Peršoh


The species of Phacopsis are lichenicolous fungi which are exclusively found on lichens belonging to the family Parmeliaceae. The genus comprises fifteen taxa which are distributed world-wide (Triebel et al. 1995, Scholz 1998, Aptroot & Triebel 2002). Some species of Phacopsis cause the formation of galls on their hosts (Triebel & Rambold 1988).

Molecular studies

Our phylogenetic analyses of SSU nrDNA sequence data of two species of the lichenicolous genus Phacopsis (P. huuskonenii and P. ) revealed their membership of the lichen family Parmeliaceae (Peršoh & Rambold 1988). Because they are the only lichenicolous taxa within this family, we suggest that their transition from an foliose and/or fruticose precursor lichen might have been due to a unique (or rare) evolutionary one step event(s).

Studies of the ITS nrDNA of the Parmeliaceae included a third Phacopsis species, Phacopsis vulpina. While the monophyletic origin of the three lichenicolous species could not be rejected by the "approximately unbiased test" (Shimodaira & Hasegawa 2001) , phylogenetic trees calculated with Parsimony and Likelihood algorithms indicate no closer relationship among the investigated species of Phacopsis.

Phacopsis vulpina: galls on Letharia vulpina

Phylogenetic tree of the Lecanoromycetes

Open Questions

To answer the following questions, an extensive molecular study, including all fifteen known taxa of Phacopsis, is required.

  • Is the genus Phacopsis in its current circumscription monophyletic?

  • Was the loss of the cupula a unique evolutionary event within the Parmeliaceae?

  • Is there a closer relationship between Phacopsis and Xantoparmelia - as indicated by some of our phylogenetic analyses?

  • P. oxyspora: apothecia on Platismatia glauca


    Literature on Phacopsis

    Sequence Data of Phacopsis

    Photographs of Phacopsis species:

  • Phacopsis huuskonenii Räsänen
  • Phacopsis oxyspora (Tul.) Triebel & Rambold
  • Phacopsis vulpina Tul.

    Descriptive data of Phacopsis species:

  • Phacopsis cephalodioides (Nyl.) Triebel & Rambold
  • Phacopsis falcispora Triebel & Rambold
  • Phacopsis falcispora var. sipmanii Diederich & Triebel
  • Phacopsis huuskonenii Räsänen
  • Phacopsis lethariellae Hafellner & Rambold
  • Phacopsis menegazziae Triebel & Rambold
  • Phacopsis oxyspora var. oxyspora (Tul.) Triebel & Rambold
  • Phacopsis oxyspora var. defecta Triebel & Rambold
  • Phacopsis oxyspora var. fusca Triebel & Rambold
  • Phacopsis prolificans (Müll. Arg.) Triebel & Rambold
  • Phacopsis rufa (Müll. Arg.) Triebel & Rambold
  • Phacopsis thallicola (Massal.) Triebel & Rambold
  • Phacopsis vulpina Tul.

  • P. oxyspora: apothecium in longitudinal section (stained with Lugol’s solution)


    • Aptroot, A. & D. Triebel (2002). A new Phacopsis species on Paraparmelia and Xanthoparmelia in southern Africa. Nova Hedwigia 74(3-4): 405-409.
    • Peršoh, D. (2002a). Character evolution in Phacopsis inferred from nrDNA sequences. In: Sevens international mycological congress – IMC7. [Abstract from the seventh international mycological congress, held in Oslo, Norway, 11.–17. August 2002.]
    • Peršoh, D. & G. Rambold (2002). Phacopsis – a lichenicolous genus of the family Parmeliaceae. Mycological Progress 1(1): 43–55.
    • Shimodaira, H. & M. Hasegawa (2001). CONSEL: for assessing the confidence of phylogenetic tree selection. Bioinformatics 17 (12): 1246-1247.
    • Scholz, P. (1998). Phacopsis doerfeltii, sp. nov, and two other interesting lichenicolous fungi from Canada. In Türk, R., Überlagger, J. & R. Zorer (eds) Third International Lichenological Symposium (IAL 3). Poster contributions. Sauteria 9: 37–43.
    • Triebel, D., Rambold, G. & J.A. Elix (1995). A conspectus of the genus Phacopsis (Lecanorales). Bryologist 98(1): 71–83.
    • Triebel, D. & G. Rambold (1988). Cecidonia und Phacopsis (Lecanorales): zwei lichenicole Pilzgattungen mit cecidogenen Arten. Nova Hedwigia 47(3–4): 279–309.

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