Macrophotograph of a lichen

Macrophotograph of a lichen

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Caption: Macrophotograph of a lichen Xanthoria aureola, growing on a gravestone in a Norfolk, UK, churchyard. The dark orange discs are the apothecia or spore producing bodies. The yellowish area is the crustose (crustlike) thallus or plant body. Symbiotic organisms, lichens consist of an algal & a fungal partner. The fungus benefits from the photosynthetic activity of the alga. The advantage to the alga remains unclear, but may lie in protection from drought & intense light. Slow growing organisms (1-2mm per year), they live to immense ages, colonising tree trunks, soil, rock, & mortar. Lichens are sensitive to sulphur dioxide & hence used to monitor air pollution.

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Keywords: air pollution, algae, apothecium, botany, crustose, dye, fungus, lichen, lichens, mutualism, nature, plant, symbiosis, symbiotic, xanthoria aureola

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