The Mason Hale Award was given to Andreas Beck (Bayreuth) on the occasion of the International Symbiosis Society Congress in Halifax 2003 for his thesis entitled “Selektivität der Symbionten schwermetalltoleranter Flechten” (“Selectivity of symbionts in heavy-metal-tolerant lichens”).
Andreas Beck investigated the inventory of photobionts in chalkophilic lichen associations as well as the distribution of the algal partners in relation to lichen species and ecological conditions. Twelve algal species were found in 62 investigated lichen species. Three species were described as new to Science, and one subspecies was raised to species level. Andreas Beck used a broad range of techniques in his thesis, including light microscopy, DNA sequencing, culture techniques, TLC, HPLC, atomic absorbtion spectrometry, etc.
Almost all lichens show a high selectivity for their photobionts, whereas algal species were less selective for fungal partners. However, there was no evidence for co-speciation. The photobionts differed in their heavy metal resistance, especially with respect to copper. Phytochelatin production and complexes with Cadmium were detected. There was generally no influence of heavy metals on the photobiont choice, but species with less-tolerant photobionts were absent on substrates with high heavy metal concentration.
– Martin Grube