Lichens resemble light-exposed microscopic greenhouses, as the fungal symbiont produces a highly organized and compact mycelial structure for phototrophic partners. The symbiotic fungus shelters the internal, yet extracellularly located, photobionts. Only suitable combinations of fungi and algal species give rise to the typical symbiotic morphology, which is then long-lived and a prerequisite for developing sexual fungal spores. Recent evidence suggests that ecological and evolutionary success of lichens may be linked to their ability to fine-tune photobiont associations across a range of environmental conditions.

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