Lichen, Algae’s Mysterious Love Child

 Seagriculture EU 2024

I​n this episode of Journey to the Microcosmos, produced by Complexly, we take a close look at lichen, the organism formed through a harmonious partnership between a fungus and a photosynthetic partner, either algae or cyanobacteria. The fungal component provides a protective structure for the photosynthetic cells while also aiding in water retention and nutrient absorption. In return, the photosynthetic partners contribute to the lichen’s energy needs through photosynthesis.

This union is a remarkable example of mutualism, where both partners benefit from their interaction. Lichen propagates through the dispersal of fungal spores, or sometimes through fragments that contain both fungal and photosynthetic components.

Lichen’s role on the planet extends beyond its intricate structure and captivating appearance. It thrives in environments where other organisms might struggle, such as nutrient-poor soils and harsh climates. This resilience makes lichen an ecological pioneer, often being one of the first organisms to colonize newly formed or disturbed habitats. By playing an integral role in nutrient cycling and soil formation, lichen contribute to the overall health of ecosystems and serve as a reminder of nature’s intricate interconnectedness.

Seagriculture USA 2024
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