The cyanobacterial symbionts in some Nostoc-containing lichens were investigated using the nucleotide sequence of the highly variable cyanobacterial tRNALeu (UAA) intron. When comparing different Nostoc-containing lichens, identical intron sequences were found in different samples of the same lichen species collected from two remote areas. This was true for all species where this comparison was made (Peltigera aphthosa (L.) Willd., P. canina (L.) Willd. and Nephroma arcticum (L.) Torss.). With one exception, a specific intron sequence was never found in more than one lichen species. However, for two of the species, Peltigera aphthosa and Nephroma arcticum, two different cyanobionts were found in different samples. By examining a P. aphthosa photosymbiodeme it could be shown that the same Nostoc is present in both bipartite and tripartite lobes of this lichen. It is thus possible for one cyanobiont/Nostoc to form the physiologically different symbioses that are found in bipartite and tripartite lichens. The connection between photobiont identity and secondary chemistry is discussed, as a correlation between differences in secondary chemistry and different cyanobionts/Nostocs in the species Peltigera neopolydactyla (Gyeln.) Gyeln. was observed. It is concluded that more knowledge concerning the photobiont will give us valuable information on many aspects of lichen biology.
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