Welcome to Word of the Week! Stay tuned for a new word each Friday to amp up your nature vocabulary!
Mycobiont [mahy-koh-bahy-ont ] (noun): The fungal component of an organism living in symbiosis.
The word “Mycobiont” is often used in relation to lichen - a super neat symbiotic organism with a fungal component as well as a photosynthetic component (photobiont), which work together as a single unit!
Lichen is so much more than just that flaky, light green thing that grows on tree bark! They come in so many different colours, shapes sizes, and play a key role in many different aspects of the environment, like the food chain and nutrient cycling. Lichen can even be used as a reliable biological indicator of air pollution, since they are sensitive to atmospheric pollutants.
The winter can be a great time to look at lichens! Sure, you may not be able to see lichens that are growing on the ground because of snow cover, however you can always take a close look at the ones that grow on trees and if the snow is not too deep, you can also explore the lichens that are growing on protected rocks.
On your next winter visit to High Park, bring a magnifying glass or hand lens along with you and keep an eye out for different lichens that you can closely explore!