A protein fraction containing phytolectins was isolated from the nitrogen-fixing lichen Peltigera horizontalis. These lectins were thermostable, truly non-specific and were more effective on human erythrocytes A, B and O than concanavalin A. Phytolectins originate from the mycobiont and do not bind any of the freshly isolated phycobionts tested, but with slight differences bind the cultured phycobionts isolated from three Peltigera spp. It is suggested that the production of phytolectins may be characteristic of the lichen symbiosis and that they may be involved in the recognition or initial interactions between compatible lichen symbionts.
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