A lichen protected by a super-hydrophobic and breathable structure

Neil Shirtcliffe, F. Brian Pyatt, Michael Newton, Glen McHale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


A species of lichen, Lecanora conizaeoides, is shown to be super-hydrophobic. It uses a combination of hydrophobic compounds and multi-layered roughness to shed water effectively. This is combined with gas channels to produce a biological analogue of a waterproof, breathable garment. The particular lichen grows mostly during wet seasons and is unusually resistant to acid rain [Hauck, M., 2003. The Bryotogist 106(2), 257-269; Honegger, R., 1998. Lichenologist 30(3),193-212]. The waterproof, breathable surface allows this lichen to photosynthesise when other species are covered with a layer of water. In addition, rainwater runs off the surface of the organism, reducing its intake of water from above and probably contributing to its resistance to acid rain.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1193-1197
JournalJournal of Plant Physiology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2006


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