Fungi Helps Plants Eat Insects

Posted on June 25, 2012

Fungi Feed Insect Nitrogen to Plants


Researchers at Brock University have discovered that plants can consume nutrients from insects with the help of a fungi called Metarhizium. New Scientist reports that the fungi transfers nutrients from the insect corpses into the roots of plants. The fungi is also capable of killing many insects. You can see what a cockroach killed by Metarhizium looks like here.

The researchers conducted an experiment using a labeled form of nitrogen. The labeled nitrogen was inserted into a moth larvae. The moth larvae was then infected with the Metarhizium fungi. The researchers later found that the label nitrogen had been transfered into two types of plants, haricot bean and switchgrass.

The paper, by S. Behie at Brock University in St. Catharines, ON, Canada, and colleagues, titled, "Endophytic Insect-Parasitic Fungi Translocate Nitrogen Directly from Insects to Plants," was published in Science Magazine.

Image: Maia K. Bidochka/Brock University