Worm-Eating Fungus

May 24

The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death. - Proverbs 13:14 NKJV

There is a soil fungus that actually feeds on worms. Usually, such fungi get their nutrition from decaying plant and animal matter, but this particular species actually snares worms and eats them. The worm is called a nematode, which is a fancy name for a family of worms also called roundworms. Nematodes are abun­dant in the soil as well as in other kinds of habitats, and many of those that live in the soil live off the living roots of plants.

In the same area where they live are a number of species of fungi that feed on dead and decaying roots. These fungi have a threadlike body and are related to the mold that grows on stale, damp bread. The microscopic nematodes are also threadlike in appearance.

The fungus sends out threadlike filaments in search of food. These filaments are covered with a sticky substance that perhaps attracts the nematode. At any rate, when the nematode begins probing about in the midst of the strands of fungus, a strange thing happens. The fungus threads begin to grow into loops, and eventually the nematode crawls through a loop. Immediately the cells that make up the loop swell and trap the worm, which soon dies and becomes food for the fungus. There seems to be some chemical communication that takes place within the fungus that lets other filaments know that a nematode is about to be trapped, so the plant suddenly begins growing many loops to ensnare the worm. No one knows for sure what causes the fungus threads to form the loops, but it does, and they spell doom for the nema­tode.

Sometimes young people, like the nematodes, idly wander into places or situations that are attractive, but very dangerous. When that wily enemy, the devil, sees the way they are going, he immediately sets up all sorts of traps to catch them. Under these circumstances, often it is only as the youth realize their danger and call upon Jesus that they can escape. The safe thing is always to stay on Jesus’ road.

Windows on God’s World – James Tucker