Category: lichens

My chronic illness has been flared up bad, and today I am trying to understand sexual reproduction in lichens when my brain is an absolute fog. And let me tell you, trying to understand reproduction in a composite species in which only one biont reproduces sexually but wouldn’t be able to form reproductive parts if it weren’t for their other bionts, where species can be sexual or asexual or both or seem like they’re always asexual but then you find this random population that’s sexual, where we apparently haven’t made much effort into investigating what causes it to be sexually reproductive in the first place (maybe because it’s too hard to observe in the lab?)…trying to understand this – not just understand it but think critically about it – when I have two or three functioning brain cells at the moment is quite a challenge.

I love lichens, and I am deeply passionate about my research, but sometimes I regret not choosing a more straightforward organism to study.

I want to learn about lichen cuz they're hella cool but when I've been trying to research there's kinda this gap? There's a bunch of really basic information for kids, and there's some really complicated academia that assumes you have more knowledge about lichen than I do. Do you have any resources for regular ass people who wanna know more about lichens?

There is such a vast gap, isn’t there? I don’t want to toot my own horn, but the only resource I can think to suggest is…me! I have a Youtube channel that I have plans to pick up again (especially now that my roommate moved out, and I don’t have to be embarrassed about recording around her). I like to go hard in on research, but I am equally interested in making science, especially lichens, more accessible to non-scientists. My dissertation is going to have many elements of outreach, so it’s definitely a priority for me.

To everyone: Any videos you’d like to see? Anything you’d like to learn more about that’s more advanced than elementary school age?

I’m working on my presentation for the Botany Conference (continuing the trend of WINGING IT because who am I to present on a topic that I only really familiarized myself with in the past 6 months [/impostor syndrome]). Powerpoint is so hilariously off on its guesses of what the pictures of lichen are. Apparently the one on the left is a close-up of cauliflower while the photo on the right is just a pile of rocks.

Are there lichen fossils? Do they resemble currently extant species? Thnx!

Until recently, there were very few fossils of lichens on record. They’re not ideal for fossilization since they don’t have hard parts, and even the putative lichen fossils that researchers have found don’t show conclusive evidence of an algal partner. However, a number of lichens were found preserved in Paleogene amber, and they absolutely represent extant species. Here’s an interesting article with photos from the literature so I don’t have to break copyright laws to share pictures of the cute old lichens:

Pixie cup lichen