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      Molecular studies on cyanobacterial diversity in lichen symbioses

      MycoKeys

      Pensoft Publishers

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          Abstract

          Symbioses between cyanobacteria and lichen-forming fungi occur worldwide in a wide range of terrestrial environments, ranging from tropical rainforests to hot and cold deserts. The evolutionary success of these symbioses is evident from the wide range of fungal groups that have established associations with cyanobacteria. The diversity of symbiotic cyanobacteria is also high, and it is obvious that symbioses between different cyanobacteria and different lichen-forming fungi have evolved on multiple occasions. From the late 1990s cyanobacterial lichens have been the subject of a steadily increasing number of molecular investigations. This chronological review examines how these studies have contributed to present knowledge and highlights some conceptual developments that have been instrumental in the process.

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          Most cited references 48

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          The Guild Concept and the Structure of Ecological Communities

           D Simberloff,  T Dayan (1991)
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            Coevolution of symbiotic mutualists and parasites in a community context.

            Recent advances in our knowledge of parasitic and mutualistic associations have confirmed the central role of coevolutionary interactions in population and community ecology. Here, we discuss the potential coevolutionary interdependence of the strength and specificity of symbiotic interactions with the complexity and productivity of their environment. We predict that interactions become less beneficial with increasing environmental quality and that the association of productivity with symbiont specificity depends on the relative strengths of tradeoffs between host range and other life-history parameters. However, as biotic complexity increases, pathogen specificity is predicted to decline, whereas mutualist specificity will increase. Testing these predictions on a geographical scale would contribute significantly to the predictive science of coevolution, and to our ability to manage biological interactions embedded in increasingly fragmented landscapes.
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              Cyanobacteria produce a high variety of hepatotoxic peptides in lichen symbiosis.

              Lichens are symbiotic associations between fungi and photosynthetic algae or cyanobacteria. Microcystins are potent toxins that are responsible for the poisoning of both humans and animals. These toxins are mainly associated with aquatic cyanobacterial blooms, but here we show that the cyanobacterial symbionts of terrestrial lichens from all over the world commonly produce microcystins. We screened 803 lichen specimens from five different continents for cyanobacterial toxins by amplifying a part of the gene cluster encoding the enzyme complex responsible for microcystin production and detecting toxins directly from lichen thalli. We found either the biosynthetic genes for making microcystins or the toxin itself in 12% of all analyzed lichen specimens. A plethora of different microcystins was found with over 50 chemical variants, and many of the variants detected have only rarely been reported from free-living cyanobacteria. In addition, high amounts of nodularin, up to 60 μg g(-1), were detected from some lichen thalli. This microcystin analog and potent hepatotoxin has previously been known only from the aquatic bloom-forming genus Nodularia. Our results demonstrate that the production of cyanobacterial hepatotoxins in lichen symbiosis is a global phenomenon and occurs in many different lichen lineages. The very high genetic diversity of the mcyE gene and the chemical diversity of microcystins suggest that lichen symbioses may have been an important environment for diversification of these cyanobacteria.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                MycoKeys
                MC
                Pensoft Publishers
                1314-4049
                1314-4057
                April 23 2013
                April 23 2013
                : 6
                : 3-32
                Article
                10.3897/mycokeys.6.3869
                © 2013
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