Chapter 36 : Lichenized Fungi and the Evolution of Symbiotic Organization

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Lichens were generally accepted as an independent group of organisms when Schwendener ( ) discovered that they are the result of the association of fungi and algae. This insight was not widely accepted by contemporaries but initiated a scientific revolution as lichens later became the prime example of a mutualistic symbiosis and, indeed, the phenomenon for which the term symbiosis was originally introduced in biology as “symbiotismus” ( ). The lichen symbiosis has proved to be one of the most important lifestyles in the and is also known from a few . Approximately 20,000 currently known fungal species live as lichens, mostly in species-rich lineages of ( ). The traditional view of lichens as a mutualistic symbiosis of a fungus and one or several green algae or cyanobacteria has always been debated ( ), but it has recently been challenged more than ever by the discovery of numerous additional microorganisms that potentially occur as obligatory participants in the symbiosis.

Citation: Grube M, Wedin M. 2017. Lichenized Fungi and the Evolution of Symbiotic Organization, p 749-765. In Heitman J, Howlett B, Crous P, Stukenbrock E, James T, Gow N (ed), The Fungal Kingdom. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.FUNK-0011-2016
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Image of Figure 1
Figure 1

Diverse shapes of lichen thalli. Coral-like fruticose (shrub-like) thallus of . Photo: Birgitta Strömbäck. Foliose (leaf-like) thalli of and covering the trunk of a in an old-growth spruce-dominated forest. Photo: Mats Wedin. Crustose (crust-like) thallus of growing on a siliceous rock. Photo: Martin Westberg.

Citation: Grube M, Wedin M. 2017. Lichenized Fungi and the Evolution of Symbiotic Organization, p 749-765. In Heitman J, Howlett B, Crous P, Stukenbrock E, James T, Gow N (ed), The Fungal Kingdom. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.FUNK-0011-2016
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Figure 2

Substantial biomass of lichens. Scandinavian costal lichen heath dominated by reindeer lichens ( spp.). Photo: Birgitta Strömbäck. Lichen-dominated soil crust community on the Great Alvar of Öland (Sweden). Photo: Martin Westberg. Abundant lichen cover dominated by in a New Zealand cool temperate rain forest. Photo: Birgitta Strömbäck.

Citation: Grube M, Wedin M. 2017. Lichenized Fungi and the Evolution of Symbiotic Organization, p 749-765. In Heitman J, Howlett B, Crous P, Stukenbrock E, James T, Gow N (ed), The Fungal Kingdom. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.FUNK-0011-2016
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Figure 3

Vertical section through a thallus of , a foliose lichen. A distinct layer of green algal cells is clearly visible under the uppermost cortex; all other structures are made up by fungal hyphae. Photo: Einar Timdal.

Citation: Grube M, Wedin M. 2017. Lichenized Fungi and the Evolution of Symbiotic Organization, p 749-765. In Heitman J, Howlett B, Crous P, Stukenbrock E, James T, Gow N (ed), The Fungal Kingdom. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.FUNK-0011-2016
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Figure 4

Vegetative dispersal in lichens. Soralia formed along the thallus margins in . These structures produce soredia, small granules of algal cells surrounded by fungal hyphae. Photo: Einar Timdal. Simple, cylindrical isidia formed on the thallus upper surface by . Photo: Einar Timdal.

Citation: Grube M, Wedin M. 2017. Lichenized Fungi and the Evolution of Symbiotic Organization, p 749-765. In Heitman J, Howlett B, Crous P, Stukenbrock E, James T, Gow N (ed), The Fungal Kingdom. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.FUNK-0011-2016
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Figure 5

Optional lichenization: . Apothecium of a saprotrophic colony on dead aspen () wood. Photo: Lucia Muggia. Lichenized morph on aspen bark. Note the green algal colonies around the young apothecium. Photo: Lucia Muggia.

Citation: Grube M, Wedin M. 2017. Lichenized Fungi and the Evolution of Symbiotic Organization, p 749-765. In Heitman J, Howlett B, Crous P, Stukenbrock E, James T, Gow N (ed), The Fungal Kingdom. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.FUNK-0011-2016
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Figure 6

Cephalodia visible as dark structures that include cyanobacteria, on . Photo: Einar Timdal. Phycosymbiodemes with different morphologies: with joined photomorphs. Note green-algal foliose parts growing out from the basal cyanobacterial fruticose parts. Photo: Mats Wedin.

Citation: Grube M, Wedin M. 2017. Lichenized Fungi and the Evolution of Symbiotic Organization, p 749-765. In Heitman J, Howlett B, Crous P, Stukenbrock E, James T, Gow N (ed), The Fungal Kingdom. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.FUNK-0011-2016
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Figure 7

Symbiotic invasion. The transition of thallus into thallus by invasion of the latter. Uninfected thallus. Photo: Einar Timdal. thallus with clear infection (whitish areas) with typical apothecia (dark patches in the whitish areas). Photo: Einar Timdal. An almost complete takeover by , with only small remnants of . Photo: Martin Westberg.

Citation: Grube M, Wedin M. 2017. Lichenized Fungi and the Evolution of Symbiotic Organization, p 749-765. In Heitman J, Howlett B, Crous P, Stukenbrock E, James T, Gow N (ed), The Fungal Kingdom. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.FUNK-0011-2016
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Table 1

Lichenized fungal species for which genome information is available (as of March 2016)

Citation: Grube M, Wedin M. 2017. Lichenized Fungi and the Evolution of Symbiotic Organization, p 749-765. In Heitman J, Howlett B, Crous P, Stukenbrock E, James T, Gow N (ed), The Fungal Kingdom. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.FUNK-0011-2016

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