Symbionts out of sync: Decoupled physiological responses are widespread and ecologically important in lichen associations

Abigail R Meyer, Natalia Mossman Koch, Tami McDonald, Daniel E. Stanton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

A core vulnerability in symbioses is the need for coordination between the symbiotic partners, which are often assumed to be closely physiologically integrated. We critically re-examine this assumed integration between symbionts in lichen symbioses, recovering a long overlooked yet fundamental physiological asymmetry in carbon balance. We examine the physiological, ecological, and transcriptional basis of this asymmetry in the lichen Evernia mesomorpha. This carbon balance asymmetry depends on hydration source and aligns with climatic range limits. Differences in gene expression across the E. mesomorpha symbiosis suggest that the physiologies of the primary lichen symbionts are decoupled. Furthermore, we use gas exchange data to show that asymmetries in carbon balance are widespread and common across evolutionarily disparate lichen associations. Using carbon balance asymmetry as an example, we provide evidence for the wide-ranging importance of physiological asymmetries in symbioses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbereado2783
JournalScience Advances
Volume10
Issue number24
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2024

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PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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