As with most organisms, DNA sequencing has revolutionised our understanding of the genetic diversity and phylogenetic relationships of lichen photobionts over the last two decades. However, unlike most organisms, these insights have rarely been translated to formal taxonomic changes and thus, no comprehensive system exists to organize the diversity that has been uncovered. Studies focus on different taxonomic scales, sequence different markers and use different analyses. Even when the methods are consistent, comparisons are rarely made to all related sequences in the database. Studies that do attempt a comprehensive analysis, such as this one are hopelessly out of date by the time they are published.
The goal of this blog is to provide a real-time snapshot of the current state of knowledge of genetic diversity in lichen photobionts and related organisms. I am collecting DNA sequences of photobionts and related organisms in a searchable database which can be accessed from the “Photobiont Sequences” page. Drop-down menus allow searches of subsets of the data (by photobiont type or by gene). Annotated phylogenies and descriptions are posted whenever new data become available or when I think of something interesting to say about them. An associated github repository has been established with details of all the analyses for each post, along with associated scripts.