Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mikepedia Fact #1 (the first installment of many)

The fact for today:

Lichens may be the evolutionary link for the transition of plants from water to land.

What's a lichen, you ask? Simply, a lichen is not a single organism- it is two organisms that interact in a symbiotic way- in other words, they help each other. The organisms: fungi (think mushrooms) and algae (think green stuff in the water).

Fungi are interesting in that they breakdown their food before ingesting it. Humans inject our food, and then break it down, but fungii breakdown rocks and other materials in their local environment and then absorb it- this is how they eat. Algae, just like plants, make energy from sunlight.

So, the algae make energy for the fungi, and the fungi breakdown minerals from rocks for the algae. Together, they're called lichens. They are still around today, and are some of the oldest known organisms on the planet.

Pretty cool eh?

7 comments:

  1. Pretty cool............... will watch out for in the big lake............Poppa

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  2. Mike - these are great posts. I read your blog everyday....

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  3. Glad to hear you guys like it! I didn't believe this when I first read it, but there is a lot of evidence that this is how plants moved from water to land.

    I think there might be some in the big lake...probably too cold about now though :)

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  4. So, can all plants that live in water live on land then?

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  5. Hey Sass,

    No, not all plants that live in water can live on land.

    The plants that live in water would not be able to stand upright on land- the buoyancy of water helps hold them up. When plants first appeared on land they used their nitrogenous wastes (similar to our yellow waste product I suppose) to help support them. This is partially why these plants were so successful on land- they could turn their waste into a structural support to hold them up.

    The very first plant that came onto land (and perhaps others) gave rise to all of the plants that we see today. This is why plants (and the same thing with animals) share so many properties amongst themselves- they're all green, use sunlight and CO2 to make energy, release O2, absorb water, etc...

    It's the idea of common ancestry...ask Uncle Rod- he's tracing his roots using his DNA!

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  6. Maybe your ancestors lived underseas :)

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  7. Like the Little Mermaid!!!!!!! Under the sea Under the sea, Darling it's better, Down where it's wetter, Take it from me, Up on the shore they work all day, Out in the sun they slave away, While we devotin',Full time to floatin' , under the sea

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