Biomonitoring of air pollution: a dichotomous key for lichen species identification




Atmospheric pollution. Bioindicators. Lichen identification.


Biomonitoring has been seen as complementary analysis to physicochemical methods and as a low-cost alternative, mainly for regions lacking air pollution control programs. Despite being the most widely used bioindicator for this type of pollution, lichens are not easily identified and this methodology is restricted to groups of expert researchers. Accordingly, the aim of the present study was to analyze lichen diversity in urban and industrial areas, in order to elaborate a dichotomous key to identify the listed species, based on easily visualized features. Lichens with leaf stalks belonging to family Parmeliaceae and genus Parmotrema were the most abundant, which are known for their resistance to air pollution. The study sites generally presented low lichen diversity, which may also have been influenced by the degree of vegetation around them. This result reinforces the importance of green areas for mitigating air pollution in urban environment. The dichotomous key elaborated for the lichen species found aims to support research, environmental education and management activities, and may expand the use of lichens as air-quality bioindicators.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Marcela Chiari, Universidade Federal do Triângulo Mineiro

Departamento de Engenharia Ambiental. Graduanda em Engenharia Ambiental.

Ana Carolina Borella Marfil Anhê, Universidade Federal do Triângulo Mineiro

Departamento de Engenharia Ambiental. Bióloga, docente com experiência na área de Microbiologia e Saúde ambiental.

William Raimundo Costa, Prefeitura Municipal de Uberaba. Secretaria Municipal de Saúde.

Departamento de Vigilância Ambiental em Saúde. Biólogo, analista ambiental com experiência na área de monitoramento da qualidade do ar, da água e do solo.

Ana Paula Milla dos Santos Senhuk, Universidade Federal do Triângulo Mineiro

Departamento de Engenharia Ambiental. Bióloga, docente com experiência na área de Ecologia e Saúde ambiental.


APTROOT A, SPARRIUS L. Pictures of tropical lichens [cited 2019 30 mar]. Available from:

BOONPENG C et al. Airborne trace elements near a petrochemical industrial complex in Thailand assessed by the lichen Parmotrema tinctorum (Despr. ex Nyl.) Hale. Environ Sci Pollutt Res. 2017;24(13):12393-12404.


CUNHA IPR, MARCELLI MP, PEREIRA EC. Espécies de Canoparmelia s.l. (Parmeliaceae, ascomicetes liquenizados) da região tocantina, MA e TO, Brasil. Hoehnea. 2015;42(2):265-272.

FLEIG M et al. Liquens da Floresta com Araucária no Rio Grande do Sul. Pró-Mata: Guia de Campo nº 3. University of Tübingen, Germany, 2008. 217 p.

FUGA A, SAIKI M, MARCELLI MP, SALDIVA PHN. Atmospheric pollutants monitoring by analysis of epiphytic lichens. Environ Pollut. 2008;151(2):334-340.

GOLD DUST LICHENS. Descripción de Chrysothrix. [cited 2019 30 mar]. Available from:

IBGE – Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística. Cidades, 2019 [cited 2019 30 mar]. Available from:

JANHALL S. Review on urban vegetation and particle air pollution – Deposition and dispersion. Atmosph Environ. 2015;105:130-137.

KÄFFER MI, MARTINS SMA, ALVES C, PEREIRA VC, FACHEL J, VARGAS VMF. Corticolous lichens as environmental indicators in urban areas in southern Brazil. Ecol Indicators. 2011;11(5):1319-1332.

KLINGBERG J, BROBERG M, STRANDBERG B, THORSSON P, PLEIJEL H. Influence of urban vegetation on air pollution and noise exposure - A case study in Gothenburg, Sweden. Sci Total Environ. 2017;599-600:1728-39.

MARCELLI MP. Fungos Liquenizados. In: XAVIER FILHO L. et al. editors. Biologia de Liquens. Rio de janeiro: Âmbito Cultural, 2006. p. 24-74.

MARTINS SMA, KÄFFER MI, LEMOS A. Liquens como bioindicadores da qualidade do ar numa área de termoelétrica, Rio Grande do Sul, Brasil. Hoehnea. 2008;35(3):425-433.

PARVIAINEN A, CASARES-PORCEL M, MARCHESI C, GARRIDO CJ. Lichens as a spatial record of metal air pollution in the industrialized city of Huelva (SW Spain). Environ Pollut. 2019;253:918-929.

RAIMUNDO COSTA W, MINEO MF. Os liquens como bioindicadores de poluição atmosférica no município de Uberaba, Minas Gerais. REGET. 2013;13(13):2690- 2700.

SAIKI M, ALVES ER, GENEZINI FA, SALDIVA PHN. Comparative study of the suitability of two lichen species for trace element atmospheric monitoring. 2013 [cited 2019 30 mar]. Available from:

SANTOS TTT et al. Liquens como bioindicadores da qualidade do ar na Avenida Conde da Boa Vista e Praça Oswaldo Cruz, Recife-PE. Arrudea. 2015;1(2):61-74.

SPIELMANN AA, MARCELLI MP. Parmeliaceae (Ascomycota liquenizados) nos barrancos e peraus da encosta da Serra Geral, Vale do rio Pardo, Rio Grande do Sul, Brasil. Iheringia. 2008;63(1):159-169.

YATAWARA M, DAYANANDA N. Use of corticolous lichens for the assessment of ambient air quality along rural-urban ecosystems of tropics: a study in Sri Lanka. Environ Mon Assess. 2019;191(3):179.



2020-06-29 — Updated on 2022-04-26


How to Cite

Chiari, M., Anhê, A. C. B. M., Costa, W. R., & Senhuk, A. P. M. dos S. (2022). Biomonitoring of air pollution: a dichotomous key for lichen species identification. Ciência E Natura, 42, e77. (Original work published June 29, 2020)

Most read articles by the same author(s)