For the love of lichen
November 11, 2018 7:00 PM   Subscribe

Welcome to the wonderful, unseen world of lichen.
posted by ChuraChura (17 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
Mr. Structure loooves lichen. Thank you on his behalf.
posted by ALeaflikeStructure at 7:27 PM on November 11, 2018

Lichen 👍
posted by hototogisu at 7:44 PM on November 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

Tiny landgoing coral reefs.
posted by flabdablet at 8:05 PM on November 11, 2018 [10 favorites]

posted by growabrain at 8:28 PM on November 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

I lich lichens.
posted by The otter lady at 8:29 PM on November 11, 2018 [4 favorites]

Unseen? I practically have to scrape the stuff off my arms and legs every morning because I live in a temperate rain forest!

I lurve lichen. And moss. I like it so much I make little moss terrariums and bring it inside.

Hello, my name is loquacious and I'm a lichen-and-moss petter.
posted by loquacious at 8:31 PM on November 11, 2018 [11 favorites]

"... then you have the crust lichens, which are kind of crusty right?"

Yes, you are correct.
posted by alikins at 10:05 PM on November 11, 2018

Lichen are so versatile that they are sort of responsible for the success of

One early challenge was that the book distributors required retailers to order ten books at a time. Amazon didn’t yet have that kind of sales volume, and Bezos later enjoyed telling the story of how he got around it. “We found a loophole,” he said. “Their systems were programmed in such a way that you didn’t have to receive ten books, you only had to order ten books. So we found an obscure book about lichens that they had in their system but was out of stock. We began ordering the one book we wanted and nine copies of the lichen book. They would ship out the book we needed and a note that said, ‘Sorry, but we’re out of the lichen book.’"

Thanks, lichen. That Mrs. Maisel show is really good.
posted by AgentRocket at 6:28 AM on November 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

Beautiful images.

I can't think about lichen without a friend's song popping into my head.
posted by neutralmojo at 8:11 AM on November 12, 2018

When I was a kid, lichen were the classic textbook case of symbiosis, in which an algal photosynthesizer paired up with a fungus and went on to live happily ever after.

But a couple of years ago, it was discovered that most lichen are actually very contented threesomes, with two fungal partners:
For over 140 years, lichens have been regarded as a symbiosis between a single fungus, usually an ascomycete, and a photosynthesizing partner. Other fungi have long been known to occur as occasional parasites or endophytes, but the one lichen–one fungus paradigm has seldom been questioned. Here we show that many common lichens are composed of the known ascomycete, the photosynthesizing partner, and, unexpectedly, specific basidiomycete yeasts. These yeasts are embedded in the cortex, and their abundance correlates with previously unexplained variations in phenotype. Basidiomycete lineages maintain close associations with specific lichen species over large geographical distances and have been found on six continents. The structurally important lichen cortex, long treated as a zone of differentiated ascomycete cells, appears to consistently contain two unrelated fungi.
posted by jamjam at 11:08 AM on November 12, 2018 [4 favorites]

I'm liken' this lichen film! Beautiful.
posted by Oyéah at 11:30 AM on November 12, 2018

I like after it rains and all the lichen lights up in its best colors.
posted by Gadgetenvy at 12:46 PM on November 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

I love that you could walk out my door and within a block or two find a fallen log with an ecosystem so complex you could spend a lifetime studying it and still not unravel everything that is happening. Lichen is amazing stuff wherever you find it but there is no missing it when you are living in the heart of a forest.
posted by Nerd of the North at 2:40 PM on November 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

These are so wonderful!

I started out just looking at the photos; I'm usually way too impatient to watch videos, but I figured I probably should at least see how long it is before I commented.

(It's a little over 5 minutes.)

I am so glad I watched it - seeing his collection, and seeing him talk about the process of photographing them, and watching the lichens rehydrate - that was all fabulous.

Thank you so much for this, ChuraChura!
posted by kristi at 2:52 PM on November 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

MrPonies and I once found a wonderful exhibit at the Field Museum about lichen. Ever since then, when they have Member Night, and open up the back rooms and display their scientists, we go fangirl the scientists in the lichen room, perplexing the scientists, who are probably unsung even by scientist standards.
posted by jenlovesponies at 5:17 PM on November 12, 2018 [2 favorites]


I have loved lichens all my life, without knowing too much about them. This guy is not only a fantastic photographer (and I'll assume, a fantastic scientist) but he also has an incredible gift for explaining his work to the public.
posted by brambleboy at 8:25 PM on November 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

This is beautiful. I do get a little bit of the Audobon problem, where you have to essentially remove the thing from its environment to depict it.
posted by aspersioncast at 9:48 PM on November 12, 2018

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