Lichens Can Be Made Of Three Organisms, Not Just Two

A Lichen, ménage à trois

“…..For some 140 years, scientists have understood lichens to be a symbiosis between a fungus, which provides a physical structure and supplies moisture, and a photosynthesizing alga or cyanobacterium, which produces nutrients. Studies of gene activity have now revealed that many lichens are instead a threesome, with two fungi in the mix. The role of the second fungus, a yeast, is uncertain, and some lichen aficionados aren’t convinced it is a true symbiotic partner. But others say it’s time to throw the textbook understanding of lichens out the window….”


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