When the fungus is grown elsewhere than in the ants' nest it produces gonidia instead of the white masses on which the ants feed, hence it seems that these masses are indeed produced as the result of some unknown cultural process.
The green (or blue-green) cells were termed gonidia by Wallroth, who looked upon them as asexual reproductive cells, but when it was later realized that they were not reproductive elements they were considered as mere outgrowths of the hyphae of the thallus which had developed chlorophyll.
In 1865 De Bary suggested the possibility that such lichens as Collema, Ephebe, &c., arose as a result of the attack of parasitic Ascomycetes upon the algae, Nostoc, Chroococcus, &c. In 1867 the observations of Famintzin and Baranetzky showed that the gonidia, in certain cases, were able to live outside the lichen-thallus, and in the case of Physcia, Evernia and Cladonia were able to form zoospores.
In 1869 Schwendener put forward the really illuminating view - exactly opposite to that of Baranetzkythat the gonidia in all cases were algae which had been attacked by parasitic fungi.
Although Schwendener supported this view of the " dual " nature of lichens by very strong evidence and identified the more common lichen-gonidia with known free-living algae, yet the theory was received with a storm of opposition by nearly all lichenologists.