Posted by: r.m. | March 3, 2010


Since we’re talking about lichens in ecology class, and since agriculture is important to all, here’s an interesting article in the online issue of Discover magazine…

Lichens: Fungi That Have Discovered Agriculture...The often misunderstood symbiote can poison wolves, break down rocks, and live for thousands of years.



  1. Thats a nice article. I did not know that lichens are that important and probably surround us everywhere.

  2. well i think that livhens are very interesting. If only people could live together that way…hehe.
    anyhow, from the picture that is posted in the article it occured to me that where i live in KabElias is infested with these creatures. Interesting but scary if they are poisonous

  3. lichens synthesis many metabolites which can be antivial, anti tumour and anti biotic, so it can be used by the human idustry and pharmacetical studies. moreover it is used for perfume extraction. but how can lichens help the plant if they secrete plant growth inhibitory chemical? so they do harm the plant by feeding on it right? one more things i read a research that lichens are sensitive reagents for the evaluation of air pollution, so do they grow more in case of pollution??

  4. Well I did not know that lichens surround us so extensively, but i knew lichens role in the ecosystem. Gordon Grice’s description of the lichens as she walks in the Ozark woods is astonishing, since she could see them without a microscope.
    There is always harmony in nature, not only a physiological one but an artistic one, and this could always be due to evolution.
    As a general rule, lichens do not harm plants, and this is not due to their caring nature, but to the fact that incompatible relationships are eliminated thought the course of evolution, and only favorable ones are left, so what we see today is the result of thousand of “natural testing.”
    The lichen symbiosis is not damaging bark in any direct ways. It does not rob bark of significant amounts of moisture. The fungal symbionts of the lichen do not parasitize living plant cells, and lichens do not appear to be associated with providing entranceways for pathogens into plant tissues, in addition some lichen make some minerals accessible to the plant, and are involved in the nitrogen cycle, to make nitrogen available for the plant.
    Sometimes when a tree declines and we see lichens growing on the tree, we think that lichens killed the tree, but in reality other factors killed the tree and lichen grew to reach sunlight because the tree is dead.
    The latter example is not an exception; there are other exceptions where lichens are indirectly harming the plant, for example: “In Canada, hemlock looper (Lambdina fiscellaria) is a serious forest pest. This moth lays its eggs almost exclusively on hair lichens such as Bryoria trichodes, and so lichen is an important cog in this pest’s life cycle.”(David J. Goerig and James A. Chatfield)
    I consider lichens as one of the most beautiful and tenacious creatures on earth, because they benefit a broad spectrum of species by providing for them shelter, remedies, protection……
    And most of all a “sensor” for pollutions and climate change.

  5. You can feel the magic in Gordon Crice’s words… I could find resemblance between these tiny creatures hosted by an ecosystem and the fertilized egg hosted by the womb, they both illustrate the concept of life from “within”.
    Lichens are at the basis of the food chain, they are forever,and as it was mentioned in the article a series of organic compounds isolated from lichens are not found anywhere else in nature!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Humans should pay attention and stay alerted to the impacts of agricultural change, climate change and industrialization on the continuity of life…

  6. Something unusual for people to discover new stuff arround them. Normally, people think that they know anything near their interacting environment. But, actually, we live with a huge number of species that we are not aware about. Even if these species are microscopic, this does not mean that they are not important. They may be beneficial for us without realizing this fact.

    Thus, we should be aware and curious about what is present around us. We shouldn’t live randomly without appreciating these -maybe unknown- interactions that put us in direct contact with some wonderful creatures.
    Researches and experiments are heavily and deeply done in order to understand the environment.

    Therefore, we should pay attention on our behaviour and try our best to minimize the damage we are causing to our environment reducing progressively the survival of a lot of species. As harmful our actions could be toward these species as much debilitating it could be for us because new species may evolve that may have enormous effects on our population.

    Lichens are one example of creature interacting with trees and most of us -including myself- didn’t even notice them earlier. More focus should be applied as a reason to clarify the human irresponsible actions that is destroying the surroundings.

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