Lichens are a wonderful example of symbiosis in nature, often quoted to biology students as a relationship where both partners benefit from a very close association. However there may be more than just the two partners in these marriages of fungi and algae. Analysis of bacterial communities on lichen thalli found species that may provide nitrogenous compounds to the lichen and may even help protect the lichen (1). The lichen Cladonia pyxidata, found in degraded, peaty habitats (2), was found to have Burkholderia spp. on its thalus, bacteria that have been shown to have antifungal properties. This may provide some degree of protection to C. pyxidata.
- Cardinale et al. 2006, FEMS Microbiology Ecology 57 pp. 484–495
- Aptroot et al. 2001, The Lichenologist 33 pp. 271-283