Green Algae and Fungi in Lichens:

Symbionts – But Friends or Foes?
  • Russell L. ChapmanEmail author
  • Melanie R. Chapman
Part of the Cellular Origin, Life in Extreme Habitats and Astrobiology book series (COLE, volume 17)


This chapter may be similar to Don Quixote’s quest in attempting the impossible, but it aims simply to attack the very common misconception that lichens are a classic example of mutualistic symbiosis between an alga and a fungus. That classic concept as a generalization is wrong both in terms of the assumed mutualism and in terms of the assumed bilateral partnership (see e.g., Ahmadjian and Jacobs, 1981). Although the classic concept is wrong on both fronts, the notion that lichens are fascinating, sometimes challenging, examples of symbiosis with parallels to the exquisite endosymbiosis of eukaryotic cells is certainly valid and lichens are intriguing organisms that some people fear are doubly in danger of losing scientific attention as organismal biology continues to ebb at research and educational institutions around the world. With declining focus on both mycology and phycology, lichenology would be expected to share in a decline in research attention. That decline in attention would be especially ironic in this time of global climate change, since “lichens are among the most sensitive organisms responding to global warming” (Aptroot and van Herk, 2007).


Algal Cell Classic Concept Lichen Species Mutualistic Symbiosis Organismal Biology 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, Scripps Institution of OceanographyUniversity of California San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  2. 2.Biosci SourcesLa JollaUSA

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