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Abstract Detail

The negotiated surveillance of parts and wholes: a symbioses-centered perspective on plant biology research

Leavitt, Steven [1], Kirika, Paul [2], Lumbsch, Thorsten [3].

Fungal specificity and selectivity for algae play a major role in determining lichen partnerships across diverse ecogeographic regions.

Symbiotic interactions among organisms from distinct evolutionarily lineages have been central to life across multiple scales (e.g., cellular, organismal, community) and perspectives (e.g., genetic, development, anatomical, physiological, ecological, and evolutionary). The intimate relationships among organisms involved in symbioses create conditions for strong interactions that have important implications in population dynamics, evolution, and ecology in symbiotic systems. In spite of the overarching importance of symbioses, teasing apart specific mechanisms that structure interactions among symbionts has historically been stymied due to a variety of factors, including an incomplete perspective of diversity, inability to accurately identify microbial partners, and uncertainty of the appropriate sampling scale. While lichens represent iconic examples of symbiosis, uncertainty in diversity and identification of algal partners have limited our perspective on mechanisms structuring interactions among potential partners. Here we address patterns of lichen symbiont interactions at the largest geographical and taxonomical scales ever attempted. Specifically, we discuss insights our research provides into: (i) ecogeographical and evolutionary patterns in lichen associations; (ii) patterns of fungal specificity and selectivity towards their photobiont partners; and (iii) and diversity and distributions in the lichen photobiont genus Trebouxia. Our analyses reveal a stronger role of the mycobionts’ genetic identity than the lichens’ occurrence in distinct ecoregions in determining the partnership with algal species, which leads to distinct patterns of lichen symbiont interactions across broad geographic and ecological distributions. We also highlight some major limitations due to our limited understanding of species-level diversity in the most common lichen photobiont; and here we propose a provisional naming system for Trebouxia photobionts. We anticipate that our integrative approaches to understanding lichen symbiosis will generate more interests in using lichens as a system to investigate the evolution of symbiosis and holobionts.

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1 - The Field Museum, Integrative Research Center, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL, 60602, USA
2 - Kenyatta University, Department of Plant Sciences, P. O Box 43844-00100, Nairobi, Kenya
3 - The Field Museum, Integrative Research Center, 1400 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL, 60605, USA


Presentation Type: Symposium Presentation
Session: SY16
Location: Salon 4/The Shaw Conference Centre
Date: Wednesday, July 29th, 2015
Time: 11:15 AM
Number: SY16008
Abstract ID:316
Candidate for Awards:None

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