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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Fungal-associated NO is involved in the regulation of oxidative stress during rehydration in lichen symbiosis

Myriam Catalá1*, Francisco Gasulla2, Ana E Pradas del Real1, Francisco García-Breijo23, Jose Reig-Armiñana2 and Eva Barreno2

Author Affiliations

1 Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Biología Celular, Dpto. Biología y Geología, (ESCET), Madrid, Spain

2 Universitat de València, Botánica & ICBIBE-Jardí Botànic, Fac. CC. Biológicas, C/Dr. Moliner 50. 46100-Burjassot. Valencia, Spain

3 U. Politécnica de Valencia. Dpto. Ecosistemas Agroforestales. Camino de Vera s/n. 46022-Valencia, Spain

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BMC Microbiology 2010, 10:297  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-10-297

Published: 22 November 2010



Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are normally produced in respiratory and photosynthetic electron chains and their production is enhanced during desiccation/rehydration. Nitric oxide (NO) is a ubiquitous and multifaceted molecule involved in cell signaling and abiotic stress. Lichens are poikilohydrous organisms that can survive continuous cycles of desiccation and rehydration. Although the production of ROS and NO was recently demonstrated during lichen rehydration, the functions of these compounds are unknown. The aim of this study was to analyze the role of NO during rehydration of the lichen Ramalina farinacea (L.) Ach., its isolated photobiont partner Trebouxia sp. and Asterochloris erici (Ahmadjian) Skaloud et Peksa (SAG 32.85 = UTEX 911).


Rehydration of R. farinacea caused the release of ROS and NO evidenced by the fluorescent probes DCFH2-DA and DAN respectively. However, a minimum in lipid peroxidation (MDA) was observed 2 h post-rehydration. The inhibition of NO in lichen thalli with c-PTIO resulted in increases in both ROS production and lipid peroxidation, which now peaked at 3 h, together with decreases in chlorophyll autofluorescence and algal photobleaching upon confocal laser incidence. Trebouxia sp. photobionts generate peaks of NO-endproducts in suspension and show high rates of photobleaching and ROS production under NO inhibition which also caused a significant decrease in photosynthetic activity of A. erici axenic cultures, probably due to the higher levels of photo-oxidative stress.


Mycobiont derived NO has an important role in the regulation of oxidative stress and in the photo-oxidative protection of photobionts in lichen thalli. The results point to the importance of NO in the early stages of lichen rehydration.