Professor Imke Schmitt Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, Goethe University Frankfurt will present her work on lichen symbioses.
The talk is titled: Adaptation to the environment in the lichen symbiosis
Many species of lichen-forming fungi tolerate a broad spectrum of climatic conditions, and occur across multiple ecological zones (biomes). Contrarily, most species of vascular plants are restricted to only a single biome. This difference between lichens and plants is striking, because as sessile, terrestrial, photosynthetic organisms, lichens have a lot in common with plants. I am interested in the question: How does environmental adaptation work in the lichen symbiosis? Specifically we are looking into contributions of the fungal partner, the photosynthetic partner, and the lichen-associated microbiome to environmental adaptation. Much of our work takes place along altitudinal gradients, which offer vastly different environments within short geographic distances. Methods we use include population genomics, phylogenetics, metabarcoding, de novo genome assembly from metagenomic reads, and ecological niche modeling. In the long run our work will contribute to better understand the interactions between the environment and symbiotic organisms, as well as the genetic basis of climate adaptation.