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  1. Lichen associations, a classic model for successful and sustainable interactions between micro-organisms, have been studied for many years. However, there are significant gaps in our understanding about how the lichen symbiosis operates at the molecular level. This review addresses opportunities for expanding current knowledge on signalling and metabolic interplays in the lichen symbiosis using the tools and approaches of systems biology, particularly network modelling. The largely unexplored nature of symbiont recognition and metabolic interdependency in lichens could benefit from applying a holistic approach to understand underlying molecular mechanisms and processes. Together with ‘omics’ approaches, the application of signalling and metabolic network modelling could provide predictive means to gain insights into lichen signalling and metabolic pathways. First, we review the major signalling and recognition modalities in the lichen symbioses studied to date, and then describe how modelling signalling networks could enhance our understanding of symbiont recognition, particularly leveraging omics techniques. Next, we highlight the current state of knowledge on lichen metabolism. We also discuss metabolic network modelling as a tool to simulate flux distribution in lichen metabolic pathways and to analyse the co-dependence between symbionts. This is especially important given the growing number of lichen genomes now available and improved computationalmore »tools for reconstructing such models. We highlight the benefits and possible bottlenecks for implementing different types of network models as applied to the study of lichens.« less
  2. For more than 225 million y, all seed plants were woody trees, shrubs, or vines. Shortly after the origin of angiosperms ∼140 million y ago (MYA), the Nymphaeales (water lilies) became one of the first lineages to deviate from their ancestral, woody habit by losing the vascular cambium, the meristematic population of cells that produces secondary xylem (wood) and phloem. Many of the genes and gene families that regulate differentiation of secondary tissues also regulate the differentiation of primary xylem and phloem, which are produced by apical meristems and retained in nearly all seed plants. Here, we sequenced and assembled a draft genome of the water lilyNymphaea thermarum, an emerging system for the study of early flowering plant evolution, and compared it to genomes from other cambium-bearing and cambium-less lineages (e.g., monocots andNelumbo). This revealed lineage-specific patterns of gene loss and divergence.Nymphaeais characterized by a significant contraction of the HD-ZIP III transcription factors, specifically loss ofREVOLUTA, which influences cambial activity in other angiosperms. We also found theNymphaeaand monocot copies of cambium-associated CLE signaling peptides display unique substitutions at otherwise highly conserved amino acids.Nelumbodisplays no obvious divergence in cambium-associated genes. The divergent genomic signatures of convergent loss of vascular cambium revealsmore »that even pleiotropic genes can exhibit unique divergence patterns in association with independent events of trait loss. Our results shed light on the evolution of herbaceousness—one of the key biological innovations associated with the earliest phases of angiosperm evolution.

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