Commentary: A New Discovery in Lichen Biology
Professor Kathleen K. Treseder, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, is an expert in the biology of fungi and studies how the species affects the broader ecosystem. Professor Treseder has recently commented on a new study published in the journal “Science” that sheds light on an old organism, the lichen. Lichen have long been thought to consist of two organisms living in symbiosis, a fungus and algae. Lichen’s are important to our environment for many reasons, including their ability to absorb sulfur or other pollutants from the atmosphere. Thanks to advances in genomics, researchers have identified a new contributor to the certain lichen symbioses, the fungus basidiomycete. “This is an exciting discovery that forces us to reconsider what we thought we knew about lichens,” said Professor Treseder. “It would not have been possible without recent technological advances in how we study fungi.” Further research is needed to determine how the addition of the second fugal species, basidiomycete, contributes to lichen symbioses.