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No. 33: May-Jun 1984

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Killer Fungi Cast Sticky Nets

Your garden soil likely contains nematodes (popularly called eelworms) that will gnaw away at your crops. Nematodes are about a millimeter long and very active, thrashing through the soil like fish through water. Their numbers are kept in check by a surprisingly sophisticated fungus which thrives on them. If nematodes are around (not otherwise), the fungus sets out two kinds of traps. The first is the sticky net made of threads sent out by the fungus. Any nematode that brushes against these sticky strands is held while the fungus rams special feeding pegs into it. The second kind of trap is even more marvelous. It is an array of rings, each consisting of three unique cells that are sensitive to touch. Attracted by alluring chemicals secreted by the fungus, the nematodes probe around the rings. In a tenth of a second after they are touched, the fungus rings contract around the interloping nematodes. Again the nematode is doomed as the terrible feeding pegs penetrate its body. Another chemical is then released by the fungus to keep other fungi away from its kill.

(Simons, Paul; "The World of the Killer Fungi," New Scientist, 20, March 1, 1984.)

Comment. Does anyone really believe that even the "simplest" form of life is really simple?

From Science Frontiers #33, MAY-JUN 1984. 1984-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987