Thursday, May 06, 2010

Tree Lichens

Tree Lichens as seen on the road to Eskdalemuir. Eskdalemuir has one of the highest recorded rainfalls in the UK and true to form having driven 100 odd miles from North Fife with the sunroof open it began to rain at the head of the valley. Contrasted against the conifers are these lichen covered deciduous trees, also Larch which is a conifer that sheds its needles in the fall.

Lichen is not a single organism, but the result of a partnership (mutualistic symbiosis) between a fungus and an alga or cyanobacteria.

Both organisms benefit from this association as the algal(cyanobacterial partner) possess the green pigment chlorophyll, enabling them to use sunlight’s energy to make their own food from water and carbon dioxide through photosynthesis. They also provide vitamins to the fungus. Cyanobacteria can make amino acids directly from the nitrogen gas in the atmosphere.
The fungus, in turn, protects its partners from drying out and shades them from strong sunlight by enclosing the photosynthesizing partners within the body of the lichen.

Really quite beautiful.

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