Lichens are way younger than scientists thought

You've probably seen a lichen, even if you didn't realize it. If you've ever meandered through the forest and wondered what the crusty stuff on trees or rocks was, they're lichens, a combination of algae and fungi living ...

When the dinosaurs died, lichens thrived

When an asteroid smacked into the Earth 66 million years ago, it triggered mass extinctions all over the planet. The most famous victims were the dinosaurs, but early birds, insects, and other life forms took a hit too. The ...

Cute jumping spider named for children's author

A spider expert at the Manchester Museum has confirmed a new species of jumping spider discovered in a park in Hong Kong. The unique spider bears a striking resemblance to a caterpillar leading it to be named Uroballus Carlei, ...

Individual lichens can have up to three fungi, study shows

Individual lichens may contain up to three different fungi, according to new research from an international team of researchers. This evidence provides new insight into another recent discovery that showed lichen are made ...

The hidden life of rock gnome lichen

They are a natural fertilizer for the forest, great construction material for birds' nests and an important indicator of how polluted the air is. And yet scientists know very little about the genetic diversity of lichens—symbiotic ...

Lichen is losing to wildfire, years after flames are gone

As increasingly hot and severe wildfires scorch the West, some lichen communities integral to conifer forests aren't returning, even years after the flames have been extinguished, according to a study from scientists at the ...

The Alps are home to more than 3,000 lichens

Historically, the Alps have always played an emblematic role, being one of the largest continuous natural areas in Europe. With its numerous habitats, the mountain system is easily one of the richest biodiversity hotspots ...

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Lichen

Lichens ( /ˈlaɪkən/, sometimes /ˈlɪtʃən/) are composite organisms consisting of a symbiotic organism composed of a fungus (the mycobiont) with a photosynthetic partner (the photobiont or phycobiont), usually either a green alga (commonly Trebouxia) or cyanobacterium (commonly Nostoc). The morphology, physiology and biochemistry of lichens are very different from those of the isolated fungus and alga in culture. Lichens occur in some of the most extreme environments on Earth—arctic tundra, hot deserts, rocky coasts, and toxic slag heaps. However, they are also abundant as epiphytes on leaves and branches in rain forests and temperate woodland, on bare rock, including walls and gravestones, and on exposed soil surfaces (e.g., Collema) in otherwise mesic habitats. Lichens are widespread and may be long-lived; however, many are also vulnerable to environmental disturbance, and may be useful to scientists in assessing the effects of air pollution, ozone depletion, and metal contamination. Lichens have also been used in making dyes and perfumes, as well as in traditional medicines.

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