Sex in the extremes: lichen-forming fungi
Lichens are characteristically found in environments subject to extremes of temperature, desiccation and low nutrient status. Despite this sexual structures are often formed in abundance. The underlying mechanisms of sex in lichen-forming fungi are discussed, together with possible ecological reasons for the persistence of sexuality. Special features of lichen sex are highlighted including sex at the limits of life on earth in Antarctica, re-lichenization following sex and dispersal, and the perennial nature of lichen fruiting bodies.
Key Words: lichen; fungi; sex; breeding system; symbiosis; extreme environments; Antarctica.