Non-destructive analysis of pigments and other organic compounds in lichens using Fourier-transform Raman spectroscopy: a study of Antarctic epilithic lichens

Lichens in Antarctic habitats are subjected to environmental extremes, including UVB radiation, desiccation and low temperatures, as well as to rapid fluctuations in these. Lichens synthesise a variety of chemical compounds in response to their environmental conditions which contribute towards their colour, and which act as protectants against physiological stresses. The fluorescence generated by the lichens at 532 nm can be used in epifluorescence microscopy to identify their presence on substrata but this can severely affect the Raman spectra using visible excitation. The advantage of the near infrared excitation used in FT-Raman spectroscopy in minimising fluorescence emission facilitates the molecular characterisation of lichen encrustations without having to remove the thallus from its substrate or remove or otherwise damage any part of the thallus. Spectroscopic biomarkers are proposed which allow the lichens to be characterised by the identification of characteristic lichen substances; the use of these biomarkers for the preliminary taxonomic identification of Antarctic lichens is examined and some potential pitfalls are described.


Publication status:
Authors: Edwards, H.G.M., Newton, E.M., Wynn-Williams, D.D., Smith, R.I.L.

1 January, 2003
Spectrochimica Acta Part A / 59
Link to published article: