Comparing Fungi in Different Lichens Across Continents

Greg Howard
6th July, 2024

Comparing Fungi in Different Lichens Across Continents

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study analyzed lichen samples from Turkey and South Korea to understand the factors shaping lichen mycobiomes
  • The host genus has a more significant impact on the lichen mycobiome than the geographical location
  • The intrinsic properties of lichen species, such as their physiology and chemistry, play a crucial role in determining the composition of their associated fungal communities
Lichens, once thought to be a simple mutualistic relationship between a fungus (mycobiont) and a photosynthetic partner (photobiont), are now recognized as complex ecosystems known as holobionts. These holobionts include a diverse array of microorganisms, particularly fungi, which collectively form the lichen mycobiome. Understanding the factors that shape these mycobiomes is crucial for comprehending lichen ecology and their roles in various ecosystems. Recent research from Sunchon National University aimed to determine whether the host genus or the geographical location has a greater impact on the lichen mycobiome by analyzing samples from Parmelia and Peltigera collected in Turkey and South Korea[1]. The study used high-throughput sequencing based on internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region amplification to analyze the fungal communities within the lichen thalli. This method allows for detailed and comprehensive profiling of fungal diversity and composition. The researchers compared the mycobiomes of the two lichen genera across the different locations to identify the primary factors influencing their structure. Previous studies have highlighted the importance of lichens in ecosystems, such as their role in soil formation, nutrient cycling, and biomonitoring for air quality[2]. Additionally, research on endolichenic fungi, which reside inside lichen thalli, has shown that these fungi are abundant and diverse, playing significant roles in the ecology and evolution of their host lichens[3][4]. However, the specific factors that shape these fungal communities within lichens have remained inadequately explored. The findings of the study from Sunchon National University revealed that the host genus had a more significant impact on the lichen mycobiome than the geographical location. This suggests that the intrinsic properties of the lichen species themselves, such as their physiology and chemistry, play a more crucial role in determining the composition of their associated fungal communities than the external environmental conditions. This aligns with earlier research showing that endolichenic fungal communities are influenced by the host type and lineage[3]. Moreover, the study's results contribute to our understanding of the ecological specificity of lichen-associated fungi. The observed differences in mycobiome structure between Parmelia and Peltigera across different locations underscore the importance of host-specific factors in shaping these communities. This insight is essential for future research on the metabolic capabilities and ecological roles of endolichenic fungi, which have been identified as sources of novel metabolites with unique bioactivities[4]. In summary, the research conducted by Sunchon National University provides valuable insights into the factors influencing the structure of lichen mycobiomes. By demonstrating that the host genus has a more substantial impact than geographical location, the study advances our understanding of the ecological dynamics within lichen holobionts. This knowledge is crucial for future studies on the ecological and economic potential of endolichenic fungi, as well as their role in lichen biology and ecosystem functioning.

EnvironmentEcologyMycology

References

Main Study

1) Continental scale comparison of mycobiomes in Parmelia and Peltigera lichens from Turkey and South Korea

Published 4th July, 2024

https://doi.org/10.1186/s12866-024-03388-0


Related Studies

2) Lichen as Bioindicators: Assessing their Response to Heavy Metal Pollution in Their Native Ecosystem.

https://doi.org/10.1080/12298093.2023.2265144


3) Host and geographic structure of endophytic and endolichenic fungi at a continental scale.

https://doi.org/10.3732/ajb.1100459


4) Endolichenic fungi: the lesser known fungal associates of lichens.

https://doi.org/10.1080/21501203.2017.1352048



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