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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Oxidative stress and usnic acid content in Parmelia caperata and Parmelia soredians (Lichenes).

High light levels together with Paraquat treatment or exposure to pollutants (e.g. SO2) can cause oxidative stress in epiphytic lichens. In some cases, a significant increase in ascorbic acid and other antioxidant metabolites, sometimes occurring in lichens only, was observed. In this study, usnic acid was measured by HPLC in Parmelia caperata and Parmelia soredians thalli treated with Paraquat, a herbicide which transfers electrons from various transport systems to oxygen, producing O2*- superoxide radicals. In light, Paraquat acts by generating active oxygen species within the chloroplast, thus simulating the oxidative component of environmental stress. The significant increase in the usnic acid content measured in P. soredians thalli (+ 36.3%) is in line with the hypothesis that it has an antioxidant action, but it is in contrast to the limited increase measured in P. caperata thalli (+ 13.7%). These apparently contradictory results confirm those found in the literature, which attribute different functions to usnic acid depending on the lichen species considered and on whether they have other detoxifying substances in their thalli. These studies are of potential application-oriented interest in relation to research into new active principles to be used in the pharmaceutical, food and cosmetic fields and/or in environmental biomonitoring.[1]


  1. Oxidative stress and usnic acid content in Parmelia caperata and Parmelia soredians (Lichenes). Caviglia, A.M., Nicora, P., Giordani, P., Brunialti, G., Modenesi, P. Farmaco (2001) [Pubmed]
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