Videos: Lichens have a bit more going on than we used to think

I caught the head cold Tegan was dealing with last week, so my brain feels like it’s all clogged up with snot. Lichens are a group of sybmiotic organisms (the term “symbiosis” was invented specifically for lichens) formed by a mutually beneficial relationship between fungi and algae. The historic understanding was that each kind of lichen had one of each, with the fungus forming the main structure, while the algae provide the “food” through photosynthesis. Hearing it described, it sounds a lot like the deal that coral polyps have with algae in the ocean.

The twist is that a few years ago, some folks apparently realized that there were “different” kinds of lichen that seemed to have the exact same species of algae and fungus, so what was going on? Well, it turns out there was a third partner in the relationship, at least in some lichens – a yeast. I decided to include two videos, because they’re both short, and describe things in slightly different ways. On that note, I’m going to go inhale steam from a mug of mint tea and see if that makes my sinuses feel better.


  1. StevoR says

    Cheers for all these – lichen ’em.* Also wishing you as speedy and smooth a recovery as possible. Get well soon.

    (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

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