The humble lichen is a superorganism: one being that is actually comprised of two major participants. One partner is a fungus; the other is a photosynthetic microbe, tucked in the fungus’ tissue. The two live intertwined, with the photobiont transferring part of its photosynthetically fixed carbon to the mycobiont — a strategy that has worked so well, that lichen are the dominant carbon and nitrogen fixers alpine and high latitude systems. However, despite a century-and-a-half of lichen research, many of the symbiosis’ details remain unclear. For the first time, a team has analyzed in parallel the genomes and transcriptomes of both partners to better understand lichen. Read the science highlight on the JGI website.
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