23 February, 2016
How good fungi can protect a tree from bad fungi
An interesting example from The Scientist of how endophytic
fungi can protect a plant from pathogens. Entitled Fungal Security Force, it describes how Taxol-producing fungi function as an immune system to ward
off pathogens in yew trees.
ALERT: Buds growing from under the bark in a yew tree (1) split the
wood open down to the vascular tissue, allowing pathogenic fungi (red)
to enter. Endophytic fungi (blue) grow towards the crack to combat the
invasion (2). The pathogen gives off chloromethane (red cloud) as it
starts to decay the surrounding wood (3). This induces the endophytes to
release hydrophobic spheres (gray balls) containing the antifungal
chemical Taxol. The chloromethane encounters the spheres and causes the
Taxol to be released (blue spray), killing the pathogenic fungi (4). The
hydrophobic spheres also accumulate and seal up the crack to prevent
future infection (5).
Source: The Scientist via FABI & TPCP