Towards a Systems Biology Approach to Understanding the Lichen Symbiosis: Opportunities and Challenges of Implementing Network Modelling
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 computational 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.
Publication Source (Journal or Book title)
Frontiers in microbiology
Nazem-Bokaee, H., Hom, E. F., Warden, A. C., Mathews, S., & Gueidan, C. (2021). Towards a Systems Biology Approach to Understanding the Lichen Symbiosis: Opportunities and Challenges of Implementing Network Modelling. Frontiers in microbiology, 12, 667864. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2021.667864