- Not Exactly Rocket Science
Worm-Eating Fungi Eavesdrop on the Chemicals of Their Prey
Fungi are fantastic at breaking down living tissues. They discolour pieces of bread and fruit, cause outbreaks of thrush and athlete’s foot, and wipe out harvests of rice and species of frog. All of these examples rely on fungal spores landing somewhere they can grow. But not all fungi are so passive. More than 200 species have evolved into predators that ensnare and devour their own meat.
Their victims are nematodes—small worms that are some of the most common animals on the planet. It’s said that four in every five animals is a nematode, which means there’s plenty of food for carnivorous fungi that can trap them.
Such meat-eaters evolved at least 100 million years ago, and they have