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Honorable Mention, 2009

Lichen Mosaic

Eimy Rivas Plata, Biological Sciences

Lichens are one of the most harmonious and beautiful symbiotic relationships in nature. They can be found almost anywhere, forming communities that can be considered “art mosaics” to the simple view. Among the high diversity of lichen, there is a group that grows in small patches over tree trunks in all kind of forests, from dry to moist ones, showing bright colors and curious shapes. Their presence can indicate air quality, forest health and even the presence of heavy metals. The complex morphology of such lichens tells a highly variable but incomplete story. Molecular analysis helps to form a more complete picture, and that is where my research is focused. Using molecular biology and morphological characters, my study seeks to unveil the evolution of tropical microlichens.