Differences Between Fungi and Lichens

Before moving to the differences between Fungi and Lichens, let’s have a quick recap about these two living organisms.

What are Fungi?

Fungi are free-living organisms, which are grouped into the kingdom Fungi. Altogether, there are 144,000 species of organisms. These eukaryotic entities are closely related to the fauna and distantly related to the flora, with respect to their characteristics and classification.

Fungi are a separate kingdom of living organisms like plants and animals. From their appearance to their characteristics and behaviour, a fungus is distinct from all other living organisms. Fungi have cells with nuclei and their cell wall contains chitin and cellulose.

Yeast, mould and mushroom are the three kinds of fungi.

Fungi are an important organism in human life. They play an important role in medicines by yielding antibiotics, in agriculture by maintaining soil fertility, are an important means of food and form the basis of many industries.

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What is Lichens?

Lichens are a group of composite organisms, found worldwide and mainly grow in various places like tree barks, rocks, walls, on roofs, gravestones, soil, etc. There is a symbiotic relationship between green algae and fungus. They are found in a clean environment with sufficient air for their growth. Many lichen partners include one photobiont and one mycobiont, which is not universal and there are lichens with more than one photobiont partner.

Lichens are necessary for the environment as they have great economic importance. Some species of Lichens are involved in converting eroded rocks into the soil. They are also a great source of food and are also used in pharmaceutical industries. Lichen also plays an important role in the nitrogen cycle by fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere.

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Now, let’s look at the differences between fungi and lichens to get a better understanding.

Differences Between Fungi and Lichens

Are non-chlorophyllous thallophytes. Composite organisms composed of algal and fungal partners.
The thallus is mycelia, which is composed of thread-like hyphae. Thallus organization is a complex type with root-like rhizines and upper, medulla and lower cortex.
Mode of Nutrition
Heterotrophs or saprophytes or parasites. The partners are a special combination, showing mutualism or symbiosis.
Special Structures
No such structure is found in fungi. Presence of special structures like soredia and isidia formed for vegetative reproduction.
They thrive best in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world which are warm. They flourish the most in the temperate and colder regions of the globe.
Favourable environmental conditions
Prefer dark places, shady, moist and vitiated atmosphere of towns. Prefer light and air and clean atmosphere of towns.
Growth Conditions
Can grow on dead or living on which they feed and demand much moisture. Can grow on barren substratum under drought and starvation conditions.
Plant’s body
Colourless. Conspicuously coloured due to the presence of various organic acids.
Mould, Mushrooms, yeast, etc. Iceland moss, beard lichens, dog lichens, oakmoss, etc.

Also Refer: Difference Between Algae and Fungi

There are many more differences between fungi and lichens. Stay tuned with BYJU’S Biology for more differences related topics and other Biology related topics.

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