Co-dispersal of symbionts in the reindeer lichen Cladonia stellaris

Marta just published her most recent paper in collaboration with Raquel Pino Bodas, an expert on Cladonia‘s biology.  In this recent paper, they explored the genetic diversity in the proposed Canadian national lichen, Cladonia stellaris. They genotyped 122 individuals collected across a latitudinal gradient in Quebec. Using a population genomic approach for the main fungus, they discovered that populations in southern Quebec are not genetically different from those of northern LWs. The mycobiont consists of at least four phylogenetic lineages with elevated levels of genetic diversity and low co-ancestry suggesting either recurrent dispersal or cryptic sexual reproduction. Additionally, phylogenomic analyses of the algal partner revealed genetic congruence between the mycobiont and algae strongly suggesting co-dispersion. Genetic diversity of each symbiont was the factor explaining most of the genetic variation of the other symbiont, whereas geography or climatic region have little explanatory power. 

You can read it here: Alonso-Garcia.etal.2022

Cladonia rangiferina and Cladonia stellaris
Reinder lichens: Cladonia rangiferina and Cladonia stellaris (credit: Marta Alonso-García)