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Caption: Macrophotograph of a mixed population of crustose (crustlike) mountain lichens, the most conspicious being Rhizocarpon geographicum (bright green), growing on slate in Cumbria, UK. The bright green thallus (plant body) is studded with black dots, which are the apothecia, or spore-producing bodies. Symbiotic organisms, they consist of an algal & a fungal partner. The fungus benefits from the photosynthetic activity of the alga. The advantage to the alga is unclear. 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, alga, algae, botany, crustose lichen, fungus, in lichen, lichen, lichens, mountain, mutualism, nature, plant, rhizocarpon geographicum, symbiosis, symbiotic

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