Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Peaceful Fungus Species Turned Into a Carnivorous Killer

     A common fungus is capable of turning into a formable predator almost instantly. Scientists have been studying this fungus (Arthrobotrys oligospora) ever since the 80's but still are trying to understand how it transforms a peaceful fungus into a carnivorous killer. This species survive and feed on organic matter that is already dead, but when their nitrogen supply is limited they do whatever it takes to survive. With this, this is one of the few fungi species that are able to do this. The fungus turns into it's "predator: mode when they sense roundworms are nearby. 

    Scientists found that once a fungus detects it's prey, DNA and also ribosome replication production is increased. With this, researchers were able to see an increase in the activity of genes involving building and operating traps. They were also able to identify a new class of proteins Called trap enriched proteins (TEP).  TEP proteins are critical for trap adhesion to nematodes. Once a fungus traps it's prey, it then penetrates the worm's body and digests it using filaments that are called hyphae. instead of chewing the hyphae fills the worm from the inside and breaks down nutrients to be absorbed. Researchers are further studying this case and understanding more on this fungus and it's potential. 


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