Lobaria pulmonaria is a lichen found in the northern hemisphere that contributes locally to carbon cycling at an ecosystem level. Lichens themselves are microecosystems composed of fungi, unicellular green algae and cyanobacteria while also hosting other organisms. These associations involve coordinating and reshaping the growth of very different species – from two – sometimes three kingdoms – into communal organisms that have adapted, survived and diversified through evolutionary time. Sequencing this lichen allows researchers to integrate organismal and ecological studies around one lichen model by setting it on a bioinformatic platform. The sequencing data is expected to provide knowledge of the processes for establishing and maintaining the symbiotic balances, their collective responses to environmental cues, and their reservoirs of genetic diversity that can be drawn on in times of global climate change.
Proposer’s Name: Olafur S. Andresson