Nutrient scavenging activity and antagonistic factors of non-photobiont lichen-associated bacteria: a review

M. Auður Sigurbjörnsdóttir*, Ólafur S. Andrésson, Oddur Vilhelmsson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Lichens are defined as the specific symbiotic structure comprising a fungus and a green alga and/or cyanobacterium. Up until recently, non-photobiont endothallic bacteria, while known to be present in large numbers, have generally been dismissed as functionally irrelevant cohabitants of the lichen thallus, or even environmental contaminants. Recent analyses of lichen metagenomes and innovative co-culture experiments have uncovered a functionally complex community that appears to contribute to a healthy lichen thallus in several ways. Lichen-associated bacteriomes are typically dominated by several lineages of Proteobacteria, some of which may be specific for lichen species. Recent work has implicated members of these lineages in several important ecophysiological roles. These include nutrient scavenging, including mobilization of iron and phosphate, nitrogen fixation, cellulase, xylanase and amylase activities, and oxidation of recalcitrant compounds, e.g. aromatics and aliphatics. Production of volatile organic compounds, conferring antibacterial and antifungal activity, has also been demonstrated for several lichen-associated isolates. In the present paper we review the nature of non-phototrophic endolichenic bacteria associated with lichens, and give insight into the current state of knowledge on their importance the lichen symbiotic association.

Original languageEnglish
Article number68
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalWorld Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.

Other keywords

  • Bacteria
  • Endothallic
  • Lichen
  • Microbiome
  • Symbiosis


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