Lichenin, also known as lichenan or moss starch, is a complex
A glucan is a polysaccharide derived from D-glucose, linked by glycosidic bonds. Many beta-glucans are medically important. They represent a drug target for antifungal medications of the echinocandin class.
The following are glucans:
occurring in certain species of
A lichen ( , ) is a composite organism
In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells (cell theory). Organisms are classified by taxonomy ( ...
s. It can be extracted from ''Cetraria islandica'' (
''Cetraria islandica'', or Iceland moss, is a lichen
A lichen ( or, sometimes in the UK, , ) is a composite organism
In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual contigu ...
It has been studied since about 1957.
Chemically, lichenin is a mixed-linkage glucan
, consisting of repeating
Glucose is a simple with the . Glucose is the most abundant , a subcategory of s. Glucose is mainly made by and most during from water and carbon dioxide, using energy from sunlight, where it is used to make in s, the most abundant carbohydr ...
units linked by β-1,3 and β-1,4 glycosidic bonds.
It is an important carbohydrate for
The reindeer (''Rangifer tarandus''), also known as the caribou in North America, is a species of deer with circumpolar distribution, native to Arctic, subarctic, tundra, boreal, and mountainous regions of northern Europe, Siberia, and North ...
northern flying squirrel
The northern flying squirrel (''Glaucomys sabrinus'') is one of three species of the genus '' Glaucomys'', the only flying squirrel
Flying squirrels (scientifically known as Pteromyini or Petauristini) are a tribe of 50 species
In biolo ...
s, which eat the lichen '' Bryoria fremontii
It can be extracted by digesting Iceland moss in a cold, weak solution of
for some time, and then boiling. By this process the lichenin is dissolved and on cooling separates as a colorless jelly.
Iodine is a chemical element
In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical ele ...
imparts no color to it.
Other uses of the name
In his 1960 novel '' Trouble with Lichen
John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris (; 10 July 1903 – 11 March 1969) was an English science fiction
Science fiction (sometimes shortened to sci-fi or SF) is a genre of speculative fiction which typically deals with imaginat ...
gives the name ''Lichenin'' to a biochemical extract of lichen used to extend life expectancy beyond 300 years.