Anaerobic Fungi...

Eric Robb Siegel esiegel at UNIX1.SNCC.LSU.EDU
Sun Mar 31 19:27:05 EST 1996

On Wed, 20 Mar 1996, Grunden Eric wrote, among other things:
> .................................. Oh, also, there are many 
> cases of fungi parasitizing plants, but does the opposite ever
> occur? Is there a parasitic plant that exists off of fungi?
> I know that insectivorous plants utilize the chitin of insects as a
> nitrogen source, and that's why I began wondering if any plants
> utilize fungal chitin in a similar manner. Any thoughts?......
I did a term paper on mycorrhizas about two `n'a half years ago, and ran 
across a mycorrhizal association with non-chlorophyllous plants called 
"monotropids", I think.  Monotropa was the type genus.  I think they 
grow in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, and I believe Trappe was 
one of the people who published on this.  The idea I have, after 
two-plus years of memory-fade, is that the monotropids tapped into the 
tree mycorrhizas and fed off the tree photosynthates being diverted to 
the mycorrhizas.  Perhaps Richard Winder could comment, since that's 
approximately his neck of the woods, so to speak.

Also, certain species of orchid apparently establish mycorrhizal 
associations with fungal plant pathogens such as Rhizoctonia and 
Armillaria.  The more virulent the fungal strain, the better the orchid 
does.  Some appear to flower only when near trees succumbing to 

I can't say for sure about plants reclaiming nitrogen from fungal 
chitin, but you might want to investigate the fate of the arbuscules in 
the vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizas. 

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