Buellia subalbula is a species of lichen with a distinctive white, cracked thallus (the main lichen body) which often appears slightly frosted. Several black ‘apothecia’, cup shaped arrangements that contain the asci (sac-like structures in which sexual spores develop), are usually visible on the lichen body (2).
Lichens are a unique group of organisms that consist of two components, a fungus (called the ‘mycobiont’) and an alga or cyanobacterium (called the ‘photobiont’) that live in a close symbiotic relationship (3)(4)(5). The fungus produces the thallus (the main lichen body) which houses the alga or the cyanobacterium, providing protection and creating optimal conditions for the photobionts to photosynthesise. This process produces sugars and nutrients which can then be utilised by the fungus(5).
A simple plant that lacks roots, stems and leaves but contains the green pigment chlorophyll. Most algae occur in marine and freshwater habitats.
A group of bacteria that contain the pigment chlorophyll and are able to photosynthesise. Once known as ‘blue-green algae’, cyanobacteria are thought to have been the first organisms to produce oxygen; fossil cyanobacteria have been found in 3000 million year old rocks. As they are responsible for the oxygen in the atmosphere they have played an essential role in influencing the course of evolution on this planet.
Fungi are one of the taxonomic kingdoms, separate from plants and animals. They obtain nutrients by absorbing organic compounds from the surrounding environment.
Metabolic process characteristic of plants in which carbon dioxide is broken down, using energy from sunlight absorbed by the green pigment chlorophyll. Organic compounds are made and oxygen is given off as a by-product.
Microscopic particles involved in both dispersal and reproduction. They comprise a single or group of unspecialised cells and do not contain an embryo, as do seeds.
Describes a relationship in which two organisms form a close association. The term is now usually used only for associations that benefit both organisms (a mutualism).
Type of simple plant body that does not have stems, leaves and roots.
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