• Question: Would finding the genome of the cyanobacterium benefit society and if so, how and why

    Asked by harryburston109 to Tree Lichen, Cyanobacterium on 10 Nov 2017.
    • Photo: Cyanobacterium

      Cyanobacterium answered on 10 Nov 2017:

      Cyanobacteria such as Nostoc commune are found worldwide. They have many characteristics that influence the ecology and biology of different environments and climatic zones such nitrogen fixation in the polar regions or in rice field, oxygen production through photosynthesis as well as human and animal health including being a delicatessen food or production of toxins. It is however not known yet why and when we do exactly what. It is therefore not only important to sequence our genome because we are so abundant and important but also to better understand why we do what and when.

    • Photo: Tree Lichen

      Tree Lichen answered on 10 Nov 2017:

      Many Lichens have cyanobacteria as one of their constituents. How do they benefit the Lichen as a whole? it is the ability of Cyanobacteria or the photosynthetic partner, to utilise simple components- light to photosynthesise and to use the Carbon Dioxide along with Nitrogen in the atmosphere that benefits the Lichen and enhance its durability.
      How has the symbiotic relationship come about and effected its constituent organisms genomes? This is of interest for those who wish to see how complex life could develop on other planets and we could even see if these very same Lichens will undergo changes as they adapt to a Martian atmosphere. Evolution is driven by such challenges and sometimes this can happen quicker then we realise. Bacteria like Cyanobacteria in lichens could mutate to make them more efficient in surviving a hostile Martian atmosphere, maybe by becoming more UV tolerant.
      We could learn a lot of such a simple organism – how life evolved and adapted way back in time…!