In this project we will study bacteria that are associated with lichens. Despite the diversity of lichenized these long-living and stress-tolerant mutualistic symbioses of fungi with algae/cyanobacteria, their interactions with bacteria are still under-explored. In the planned project, we focus on selected representatives of lichens on diverse substrates and from different phylogenetic groups. First, we will analyse the structural and functional diversity of bacteria, using a combination of DNA-based, culture-based and microscopical approaches. We will then test experimentally whether bacterial strains can act synergistically or detrimentally on the lichen symbioses or have effects on the survival of presymbiotic stages, respectively. As endosymbionts were found in other fungal groups, we will also investigate whether these may also occur in lichens. We hypothesize that certain bacteria are ecologically relevant to lichens and expect to find new bacterial species, some of which may be closely related to opportunistic human-pathogenic organisms. The investigation of lichen associated bacteria may also be interesting in the search of new bioactive properties. This question which will be addressed with experimental assays.
|Effective start/end date||1/09/06 → 31/08/10|