Concentration of mannitol and other soluble carbohydrates in the crustose lichen Rhizocarpon geographicum

Richard Armstrong

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


In symbiotic lichens which have Trebouxia as the algal partner, photosynthesis by the algae results in the production of the soluble carbohydrate ribitol which is then transported to the fungus where it is converted to arabitol and mannitol. Within the fungus, arabitol may act as a short-term carbohydrate reserve while mannitol may have a more protective function and be important in stress resistance. The concentrations of ribitol, arabitol, and mannitol were measured, using gas chromatography, in the central areolae and marginal hypothallus of the crustose lichen Rhizocarpon geographicum (L.) DC. growing on slate rocks in north Wales, UK. The concentrations of all three soluble carbohydrates were greater in the central areolae than in the marginal prothallus. In addition, the ratio of mannitol in the prothallus to that in the areolae was least in July. The concentration of an individual carbohydrate in the prothallus was correlated primarily with the concentrations of the other carbohydrates in the prothallus and not to their concentrations in the areolae. Low concentration of ribitol, arabitol, and mannitol in the marginal prothallus compared with the central areolae suggests either a lower demand for carbohydrate by the prothallus or limited transport from areolae to prothallus and may explain the low growth rates of this species. In addition, soluble carbohydrates appear to be partitioned differently through the year with an increase in mannitol compared with arabitol in more stressful periods.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMannitol
Subtitle of host publicationchemistry, uses and potential side effects
EditorsPaolo Fubini
Place of PublicationHauppage, NY (US)
PublisherNova science
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-62808-763-5
ISBN (Print)978-1-62808-762-8
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Publication series

NamePharmacology - research, safety testing and regulation: biotechnology in agriculture, industry and medicine


  • Lichen
  • Symbiosis
  • Rhizocarpon geographicum
  • Mannitol
  • Prothallus
  • Areolae
  • Soluble carbohydrate
  • Polyol


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