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So you've got your fungus and your algae (or cyanobacteria) (and the multitude of other variations and additions to this two-species symbiosis that lichens present). Do the species that comprise the lichen communicate with each other via chemical or electrical signalling? For instance, could an algal cell "tell" the fungus that it's diseased, thus triggering the allocation of more resources toward pathogen resistance?

And if there is no communication, how have lichens been so successful?

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Communication definitely happens, but I don't know of any research into response to disease.

One example are molecules known as lectins that help the fungal partner recognize the correct photobiont (algal or cyanobacterial) symbiont.

Another example are the physical connections between fungal hyphae and photobiont known as haustoria that appear to help the fungus extract sugars from the photobiont.

You should find this review by Piercey-Normore & Athukorala 2017 a helpful place to begin learning more.

Ref: Piercey-Normore, M. D., & Athukorala, S. N. (2017). Interface between fungi and green algae in lichen associations. Botany, 95(10), 1005-1014.

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    $\begingroup$ Please expand your answer. Provide a quote, image, or some other useful summary item from the article you link to to demonstrate how it answers the OP's question. Also, due to concerns about links dying, please provide the citation of the article directly into your answer for future reference. (The citation is easily found by typing he paper title into Google Scholar and selecting the citation button (shown as a ") below the search result). $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 24, 2019 at 19:08
  • $\begingroup$ @theforestecologist: Is that more along the lines of what is expected? $\endgroup$
    – tyersome
    Commented Jun 24, 2019 at 22:34
  • $\begingroup$ @theforestecologist: Great, thanks for the feedback! $\endgroup$
    – tyersome
    Commented Jun 28, 2019 at 1:07

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