Lichens are composite organisms comprised of a fungus and one or more algae living together in symbiotic association in which the algal partner produces essential nutrients for the fungal partner through photosynthesis, while the fungal partner provides mechanical support to the algal partner. Development and establishment of lichen on a substratum is achieved by fruiting bodies (apothecia) produced by the fungal partner, which must germinate and find an algal partner before they can form a new lichen thallus or may produce minute fragments (as finger-like outgrowths, isidia or sugar-like granules, soredia) containing both partners, which can disperse quickly and colonise available habitats. Being pioneers on rock surface lichens are important component of the ecosystem that establishes life on rock and barren disturbed sites. As lichens colonise rocks, they trap dust, silt and water which leads to biogeophysical and biogeochemical weathering of the rock surface leading to soil formation. Lichens occur in all available substrata and in all possible climatic conditions, but the lichen diversity of an area of interest or substratum is highly dependent on prevalent microclimatic conditions. Apart from morphology and anatomy of lichens, the high success of lichens in extreme climates has been attributed to the secondary metabolites produced by the fungal partner to protect the algal partner. This chapter discusses the unique characteristics about lichens which facilitate their survival in extreme climates and makes them an ideal organism for ecosystem monitoring.


Lichen Species Usnic Acid Lichen Diversity Lichen Thallus Crustose Lichen 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer India 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental SciencesBabasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar UniversityLucknowIndia
  2. 2.Lichenology LaboratoryCSIR - National Botanical Research InstituteLucknowIndia

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