Lichens have long been considered as composite organisms composed of algae and/or cyanobacteria hosted by a fungus in a mutualistic relationship. Other organisms have been gradually discovered within the lichen thalli, such as multiple algal species, yeasts, or even viruses. Of pivotal relevance is the existence of the lichen microbiome, which is a community of microorganisms that can be found living together on the lichen surface. This community performs a growing number of functions. In this entry, we explore the journey of lichens being considered from a dual partnership to a multi-species symbiotic relationship.
Bioplastics have proven to be a viable substitute for plastics in some sectors, although their use in construction is still limited. The construction sector currently uses 23% of the world’s plastic production, both for the materials themselves and for their packaging and protection. A considerable part is not recycled and is dispersed into the environment or ends up in landfills. In response to the environmental problems caused by oil-based plastic pollution, the development of biocomposite materials such as bioplastics represents a paradigm shift. This entry aims to explain what bioplastics are, providing a classification and the description of the different properties and applications. It also lays out the most interesting uses of these materials in the construction field.
Wood decayed and colored by fungi, colloquially known as ‘spalted wood’, has been a source of art and folklore across numerous cultures. From intarsia and marquetry in Italy and Germany to woodturning in the U.S. and carving and mythology in Chile, the uses of, and stories about, spalted wood are explored, as well as how those have shaped their surrounding cultures as well as modern science.