Metabolic profiling of alpine and ecuadorian lichens

Verena K. Mittermeier, Nicola Schmitt, Lukas P.M. Volk, Juan Pablo Suárez, Andreas Beck, Wolfgang Eisenreich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Non-targeted 1H-NMR methods were used to determine metabolite profiles from crude extracts of Alpine and Ecuadorian lichens collected from their natural habitats. In control experiments, the robustness of metabolite detection and quantification was estimated using replicate measurements of Stereocaulon alpinum extracts. The deviations in the overall metabolite fingerprints were low when analyzing S. alpinum collections from different locations or during different annual and seasonal periods. In contrast, metabolite profiles observed from extracts of different Alpine and Ecuadorian lichens clearly revealed genus- and species-specific profiles. The discriminating functions determining cluster formation in principle component analysis (PCA) were due to differences in the amounts of genus-specific compounds such as sticticin from the Sticta species, but also in the amounts of ubiquitous metabolites, such as sugar alcohols or trehalose. However, varying concentrations of these metabolites from the same lichen species e.g., due to different environmental conditions appeared of minor relevance for the overall cluster formation in PCA. The metabolic clusters matched phylogenetic analyses using nuclear ribosomal DNA (nrDNA) internal transcribed spacer (ITS) sequences of lichen mycobionts, as exemplified for the genus Sticta. It can be concluded that NMR-based non-targeted metabolic profiling is a useful tool in the chemo-taxonomy of lichens. The same approach could also facilitate the discovery of novel lichen metabolites on a rapid and systematical basis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18047-18065
Number of pages19
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2015


  • Chemotaxonomy
  • Metabolomics
  • Principle component analysis
  • Stereocaulon
  • Sticta
  • Sticticin


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