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Population genetics of lichen-forming fungi – a review

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 August 2010

Research Unit for Biodiversity and Conservation Biology, Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Zürcherstrasse 111, CH-8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland; Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California at Los Angeles, 621 Charles E Young Drive South, Los Angeles, California 90095-1606, USA. Email:


Population genetics investigates the distribution of genetic variation in natural populations and the genetic differentiation among populations. Lichen-forming fungi are exciting subjects for population genetic studies due to their obligate symbiosis with a green-algal and/or cyanobacterial photobiont, and because their different reproductive strategies could influence fungal genetic structures in various ways. In this review, first, I briefly summarize the results from studies of chemotype variation in populations of lichen-forming fungi. Second, I compare and evaluate the DNA-based molecular tools available for population genetics of lichen-forming fungi. Third, I review the literature available on the genetic structure of lichen fungi to show general trends. I discuss some fascinating examples, and point out directions for future research.

Research Article
Copyright © British Lichen Society 2010

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