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February : How good fungi can protect a tree from bad fungi

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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.

Good fungi
INTRUDER 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 

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