Roccella species constitute interesting models to address questions regarding lichen metabolite diversity across taxonomic, ecological and geographic gradients. Indeed, owing to their wide distribution, their taxonomic diversity and the narrow ecological niche they occupy, Roccella species are good candidates to study the drivers of lichen chemistry. This study focuses on the chemical profiling of five species: R. applanata, R. belangeriana, R. fuciformis, R. montagnei and R. phycopsis. These five species were sampled in a rather narrow longitudinal range (1°51′W to 47°17′E) covering the Eastern Atlantic and Western Indian Ocean areas along an extended latitudinal range (48°49′N to 22°23′S). High Pressure Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) analysis followed by mass spectrometry of 31 Roccella thalli revealed a number of interesting patterns through a multivariate (PCA) analysis, including the first detailed chemical profiles for two species from the Scattered Islands: R. applanata and R. belangeriana. Metabolite segregation amongst all studied Roccella species, including R. montagnei and R. belangeriana, gave some insight into the taxonomy of the latter two species, which we interpret as separate species. An additional analysis focusing on R. montagnei samples revealed chemical differences along both a latitudinal and ecological gradient (from Europa Island to São Tomé and Príncipe). Three mass spectra databases were built to dereplicate the ions, which gave an overview of the factors that could drive quantitative and qualitative metabolite composition in lichens. Additionally, several new Roccella species records are reported for the Scattered Islands, as well as São Tomé and Príncipe.
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