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Is lichen a fungi?

Asked by Christopher Poole on October 29, 2021

Categories: Science Environment


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A lichen, or lichenized fungus, is actually two organisms functioning as a single, stable unit. Lichens comprise a fungus living in a symbiotic relationship with an alga or cyanobacterium (or both in some instances). There are about 17,000 species of lichen worldwide.

Which fungal group is most commonly found in lichens? A few lichen fungi (approximately 20) are members of the fungal group Basidiomycota, but the vast majority are members of the Ascomycota (ascus-forming fungi) and they often produce conspicuous fungal fruiting bodies (ascocarps) - usually disk-shaped structures termed apothecia (e.g. Figures E, G).

What are the unique characteristics of a lichen? Lichens have a body called a thallus, an outer, tightly packed fungal layer called a cortex, and an inner, loosely packed fungal layer called a medulla (Figure 5.5. 1). Lichens use hyphal bundles called rhizines to attach tothe substrate.

Where is lichen found? Lichens are abundant growing on bark, leaves, mosses, on other lichens, and hanging from branches "living on thin air" (epiphytes)in rain forests and in temperate woodland. They grow on rock, walls, gravestones, roofs, exposed soil surfaces, and in the soil as part of a biological soil crust.