About the Project
This project will investigate the mechanisms driving lichen symbiosis and its resilience, by examining metabolic processes on the cellular level using protocols established for coral research. Understanding these processes for a range of species, will provide the mechanistic basis needed in assessing climate change risk and identifying threshold temperatures for lichen survival. Recent reports indicate that, for lichens, sensitivity to climate change remains a key area of uncertainty (5), weakening conservation policy.
Key research questions (max 5):
The PhD project will address the following research questions:
1. What are the conditions that lead to a breakup of the lichen symbiosis?
2. What are the cellular processes driving the breakup of the symbiotic relationship?
3. How are the symbiotic exchange rates (sugars) between the two symbionts affected by single and multiple stressors?
4. Are some symbiotic-arrangements more heat-sensitive than others? Are there species with greater climate-sensitivity?
5. How will lichen distribution patterns be affected by climate heating?
This project will analyse mechanisms and the cellular process involved in the lichens symbiotic relationship. The core methodology is based on experimental work simulating differentially stressful environments in growth chambers to test for stress physiology, the development of reactive oxygen species and carbon exchange rates between the symbionts. The student will have access to laboratory facilities, including gas chromatography–mass spectrometers, environmental growth chambers, Chlorophyll-Fluorometers and microscopes (including electron microscopy). The student will have the opportunity to establish novel protocols significant scope to develop their own research ideas within the research questions. The project will involve fieldwork in Scotland. The project will involve close collaboration between the School of Geosciences, the School of Biological Sciences
2. Porada, P., Weber, B., Elbert, W., Pöschl, U., & Kleidon, A. (2013). Biogeosciences, 10, 6989-6989;
3. Colesie, C., Büdel, B., Hurry, V., Green, T.G.A. (2017). Global Change Biology 24: 1123–1135
4. Williams, L., Colesie, C., Ullmann, A., Westberg, M., Wedin, M., Büdel, B. (2016) Ecology and Evolution 7: 2560-2574
5. Ellis, C. (2013). Terrestrial Biodiversity Climate Change Impacts Report Card;
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