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However, some lichen species are very adaptable and hardy.
When left undisturbed, lichens live in many varying climates and altitudes throughout the world.
In addition to their morphological forms, lichen thalli are also classified by the ratio of phycobiont cells (i.e., cells of the photosynthetic partner) to mycobiont cells (i.e., cells of the fungus).
The homoeomerous type of thallus consists of numerous algal cells distributed among a lesser number of fungal cells, while the heteromerous thallus has a predominance of fungal cells.
Most lichens are very sensitive to air pollution, and like canaries in coal mines, may serve as indicators of air quality.
Lichen is composed of two or more dissimilar organisms that form a mutually beneficial (symbiotic) relationship to produce a new vegetative body that is called a thallus.
The photosynthetic algae or cyanobacteria form simple carbohydrates that, when excreted, are absorbed by fungi cells and transformed into a different carbohydrate.
Evolutionarily, it is not certain when fungi and algae came together to form lichens for the first time, but it was certainly after the mature development of the separate components.