Congruent genetic structure in the lichen-forming fungus Lobaria pulmonaria and its green-algal photobiont

Silke Werth, Christoph Scheidegger
Molecular Plant-microbe Interactions: MPMI 2012, 25 (2): 220-30
The extent of codispersal of symbionts is one of the key factors shaping genetic structures of symbiotic organisms. Concordant patterns of genetic structure are expected in vertically transmitted symbioses, whereas horizontal transmission generally uncouples genetic structures unless the partners are coadapted. Here, we compared the genetic structures of mutualists, the lichen-forming fungus Lobaria pulmonaria and its primary green-algal photobiont, Dictyochloropsis reticulata. We performed analysis of molecular variance and variogram analysis to compare genetic structures between symbiosis partners. We simulated the expected number of multilocus-genotype recurrences to reveal whether the distribution of multilocus genotypes of either species was concordant with panmixia. Simulations and tests of linkage disequilibrium provided compelling evidence for the codispersal of mutualists. To test whether genotype associations between symbionts were consistent with randomness, as expected under horizontal transmission, we simulated the recurrence of fungal-algal multilocus genotype associations expected by chance. Our data showed nonrandom associations of fungal and algal genotypes. Either vertical transmission or horizontal transmission coupled with coadaptation between symbiont genotypes may have created these nonrandom associations. This study is among the first to show codispersal and highly congruent genetic structures in the partners of a lichen mutualism.

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