14 September 2011

Invasion of the fungal body stranglers

Imagine if a tree could lasso your body as you run past. That’s pretty much what some nematophagous fungi (and Vampyrellid protists) do in soils—capturing (very) motile nematodes, suspending their motion, and digesting them whole. Some fungi entwine nematodes with their rope-like hyphae and choke the poor worms to death. Other fungi inject their roots into a living worm, sucking out nutrients and killing the nematode as the fungal mass grows. (As another strategy, Vampyrellid amobae engulf nemtodes whole in a blob of goo.) To top it all off, nematophagous fungi unleash siren-like powers (perhaps by emitting sensual chemicals scents?) that attract unknowing, healthy nematodes towards their webs.
-- belatedly, from Marine Fungi are Totally Badass at Deep Sea News

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