"Sing unto the LORD; for he hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth."
Most of us have heard of plants like the Venus flytrap and the pitcher plant, which eat meat, even if we've never seen one. But did you know that there are mushrooms that also eat meat?
The oyster mushroom is one such mushroom. It grows on dead trees. Like other mushrooms, the main part of the oyster mushroom is made up of nearly invisible filaments that grow out of sight in the decaying wood. When the mushroom is ready to reproduce, it grows a large short-but-thick stalk with a typical mushroom cap at the top.
Many creatures, including nematode worms, call the decaying wood home. And nematodes are what the oyster mushroom eats to supplement its diet. There is very little available nitrogen in the dead wood where the mushroom grows, and nematodes provide needed nitrogen. When a nematode encounters one of the filaments of the oyster mushroom, it is likely to be immobilized by a droplet of poison. Once immobilized, the mushroom quickly grows new filaments to the nematode so that it can be digested.
Mushrooms and other types of fungus play an important role in recycling dead wood and other materials for use by other living things. And like other living things, they require nitrogen in order to live and grow. But decaying wood is particularly poor in nitrogen. So God gave nematodes the task of bringing nitrogen into this nitrogen-poor environment so that the materials in wood could be recycled. How wise our Creator is!
Notes: Photo: Courtesy of Jean-Pol Grandmont, Sept. 2006.
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