The underestimated fraction: diversity, challenges and novel insights into unicellular cyanobionts of lichens

Jung P., Briegel-Williams L., Büdel B., Schultz M., Nürnberg D.J., Grube M., D’Agostino P.M., Kaštovský J., Mareš J., Lorenz M., González M.L.G., Dal Forno M., Westberg M., Chrismas N., Pietrasiak N., Whelan P., Dvořák P., Košuthová A., Gkelis S., Bauersachs T., Schiefelbein U., Giao V.T.P. & Lakatos M.
ISME Communications
4(1): ycae069
Lichens are remarkable and classic examples of symbiotic organisms that have fascinated scientists for centuries. Yet, it has only been for a couple of decades that significant advances have focused on the diversity of their green algal and/or cyanobacterial photobionts. Cyanolichens, which contain cyanobacteria as their photosynthetic partner, include up to 10% of all known lichens and, as such, studies on their cyanobionts are much rarer compared to their green algal counterparts. For the unicellular cyanobionts, i.e. cyanobacteria that do not form filaments, these studies are even scarcer. Nonetheless, these currently include at least 10 different genera in the cosmopolitan lichen order Lichinales. An international consortium (International Network of CyanoBionts; INCb) will tackle this lack of knowledge. In this article, we discuss the status of current unicellular cyanobiont research, compare the taxonomic resolution of photobionts from cyanolichens with those of green algal lichens (chlorolichens), and give a roadmap of research on how to recondition the underestimated fraction of symbiotic unicellular cyanobacteria in lichens.
Saturday, 06 July 2024 00:09