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1 - Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 September 2012

T. H. Nash
Affiliation:
School of Life Sciences Arizona State University Box 874501 Tempe, AZ 85287-4501 USA
Thomas H. Nash, III
Affiliation:
Arizona State University
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Summary

The symbiosis

Lichens are by definition symbiotic organisms, usually composed of a fungal partner, the mycobiont (Chapter 3), and one or more photosynthetic partners, the photobiont (Chapter 2), which is most often either a green alga or cyanobacterium. Although the dual nature of most lichens is now widely recognized, it is less commonly known that some lichens are symbioses involving three (tripartite lichens) or more partners. The potential relationships of mycobionts and photobionts may in fact be quite complex (Chapter 4), and a rigorous classification of many types of relationships was developed by Rambold and Triebel (1992). In general, lichens exist as discrete thalli and are implicitly treated as individuals in many studies (but see Chapter 13), even though they may be a symbiotic entity involving three kingdoms! From a genetic and evolutionary perspective, lichens can certainly not be regarded as individuals and this fact has major implications for many areas of investigation, such as developmental and reproductive studies (Chapter 5).

The nature of the lichen symbiosis is widely debated and deserves further investigation. Most general textbooks and many researchers refer to lichens as a classical case of mutualism, where all the partners gain benefits from the association. Alternatively, lichens are regarded as an example of controlled parasitism, because the fungus seems to obtain most of the benefits and the photobiont may grow more slowly in the lichenized state than when free-living (Ahmadjian 1993).

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Chapter
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Lichen Biology , pp. 1 - 8
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2008

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  • Introduction
    • By T. H. Nash, School of Life Sciences Arizona State University Box 874501 Tempe, AZ 85287-4501 USA
  • Edited by Thomas H. Nash, III, Arizona State University
  • Book: Lichen Biology
  • Online publication: 05 September 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511790478.002
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  • Introduction
    • By T. H. Nash, School of Life Sciences Arizona State University Box 874501 Tempe, AZ 85287-4501 USA
  • Edited by Thomas H. Nash, III, Arizona State University
  • Book: Lichen Biology
  • Online publication: 05 September 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511790478.002
Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • Introduction
    • By T. H. Nash, School of Life Sciences Arizona State University Box 874501 Tempe, AZ 85287-4501 USA
  • Edited by Thomas H. Nash, III, Arizona State University
  • Book: Lichen Biology
  • Online publication: 05 September 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511790478.002
Available formats
×