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Tag: Lichens

Lichens are much younger than scientists thought

Lichens are much younger than scientists thought

Science
Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Long thought to be some of the first living organisms to colonize land, new research suggests lichens aren't nearly as old as scientists thought. Lichens are composite organisms formed by symbiotic relationships between algae or cyanobacteria and different fungi species. Because they can grow on rocks, scientists originally hypothesized that lichens were some of the first life forms to make the transition from sea to shore, paving the way for modern plants. New genetic analysis suggests lichens actually evolved millions of years after plants. Scientists published the results of their DNA analysis this week in the journal Geobiology. "When we look at modern ecosystems, and we see a bare surface like a rock, oftentimes lichens are the first thing to grow there, and eventua...
Lichens thrived, diversified after the dinosaurs died out

Lichens thrived, diversified after the dinosaurs died out

Science
June 28 (UPI) -- The dinosaurs were the most famous victim of the asteroid that struck Earth some 66 million years ago, but the mass extinction event also killed off a variety of plants and animals. According to a new study, the loss of plant life created space for lichens to diversify and thrive. Lichens are composite organisms formed by symbiotic relationships between algae or cyanobacteria and different fungi species. "We thought that lichens would be affected negatively, but in the three groups we looked at, they seized the chance and diversified rapidly," Jen-Pang Huang, a former postdoctoral researcher at the Field Museum in Chicago, said in a news release. "Some lichens grow sophisticated 3D structures like plant leaves, and these ones filled the niches of plants that died out." T...