Fine hyphal coils in the liverwort Cephaloziella varians increase in frequency in response to experimental warming in maritime Antarctica
Previous studies have shown changes to the frequencies of hyphal coils and other fungal structures in leafy liverwort tissues across latitudinal transects through Antarctica. Although suggestive of a role of temperature in determining the frequencies of fungal structures, these studies could not exclude the possibility that other factors which alter at lower latitudes—notably liquid water availability—were responsible for the observed patterns of fungal colonisation. Here, in a field experiment in maritime Antarctica, the effects of warming with open top chambers (OTCs) on the frequencies of fungal structures in the leafy liverwort Cephaloziella varians were determined. At five samplings of the experiment taking place 5–10 years after its deployment, OTCs, which increased the summertime temperature of C. varians mats by 1.1 °C, but had no measurable effects on mat moisture concentration, were found to double the frequencies of fine hyphal coils in liverwort tissues. Over the duration of the experiment, the OTCs also significantly increased the frequency of rhizoids on C. varians stems, but had no effects on the frequencies of coarse hyphal coils, dark septate hyphae, hyaline septate hyphae, or hyphal colonisation of rhizoids. Given that C. varians can be recovered from frozen peatbank cores, it is proposed that the abundance of fine hyphal coils in its tissues might be used as a signal of recent climate warming on the Antarctic Peninsula.
Authors: Newsham, K.K. ORCID record for K.K. Newsham