Lichens in Forest Ecosystems

Authored by: Per-Anders Esseen , Darwyn Coxson

Routledge Handbook of Forest Ecology

Print publication date:  October  2015
Online publication date:  October  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415735452
eBook ISBN: 9781315818290
Adobe ISBN: 9781317816447


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Lichens are unique organisms that consist of a partnership (symbiosis) between a heterotrophic fungus and an autotrophic green alga (chlorolichens) or cyanobacterium (cyanolichens). The fungus (mycobiont, mostly an ascomycete) dominates and its hyphae envelop the algae or cyanobacteria (photobiont). The photobiont provides carbohydrates by photosynthesis while the mycobiont provides both protection from high light and desiccation and facilitates water storage. This close association has proved to be extremely successful and lichens have evolved a large diversity of life forms and adaptations that are widely distributed in forests throughout the world.

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