Journal Article

Genetic diversity in cyanobacterial symbionts of thalloid bryophytes

Jouko Rikkinen and Viivi Virtanen

in Journal of Experimental Botany

Published on behalf of Society for Experimental Biology

Volume 59, issue 5, pages 1013-1021
Published in print March 2008 | ISSN: 0022-0957
Published online March 2008 | e-ISSN: 1460-2431 | DOI:
Genetic diversity in cyanobacterial symbionts of thalloid bryophytes

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Two species of thalloid liverworts, Blasia pusilla and Cavicularia densa, form stable symbioses with nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria. Both bryophytes promote the persistence of their cyanobacterial associations by producing specialized gemmae, which facilitate the simultaneous dispersal of the host and its nitrogen-fixing symbionts. Here the genetic diversity of cyanobacterial symbionts of Blasia and Cavicularia is examined. The results indicate that the primary symbionts of both bryophytes are closely related and belong to a specific group of symbiotic Nostoc strains. Related strains have previously been reported from hornworts and cycads, and from many terricolous cyanolichens. The evolutionary origins of all these symbioses may trace back to pre-Permian times. While the laboratory strain Nostoc punctiforme PCC 73102 has been widely used in experimental studies of bryophyte–Nostoc associations, sequence-identical cyanobionts have not yet been identified from thalloid liverworts in the field.

Keywords: Blasia pusilla; bryophyte; Cavicularia densa; Nostoc; tRNALeu(UAA) intron; specificity; symbiosis

Journal Article.  4539 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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