Episode Summary

In this partnership between fungus and algae, the algae eventually take up residence inside their partner!

Microbe of the episode

Microbe of the episode: Erwinia tracheiphila

News discussed

Summary article

Jesse's takeaways

Partnerships and cooperation between otherwise free-living organisms is common in the natural world. Partnering with a photosynthetic organism is a smart approach, allowing the partner to get its energy from the sun and making gathering nutrients easier for the phototroph, and possibly offering protection as well. But in most partnerships, each partner stays separated by its own cell membrane.

In this study, a fungus and an alga grow well together, exchanging carbon for nitrogen, similar to how lichens operate. But after a month or so of co-culture, the algae apparently enter the cells of the fungus somehow and live inside it, happily growing and dividing, turning the fungus green.

Journal Paper

Du Z-Y, Zienkiewicz K, Vande Pol N, Ostrom NE, Benning C, Bonito GM. 2019. Algal-fungal symbiosis leads to photosynthetic mycelium. eLife 8:e47815.

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