How fungi can interact with other organisms

Adapted from ‘Trees & Fungi: Their Complex Relationship’ by Professor Lynne Boddy – Part 5 

There is often an interaction between fungi and other organisms. Beetles and other insects can unwittingly carry the spores from site to site.

Sometimes, an insect provides conditions for a fungus to become established in a tree by feeding on the host tree.

For example the Elm Bark Beetle and the fungus that causes Dutch Elm Disease, and with the Beech Scale insect, which feeds on the bark of the Beech tree, causing it to die and enabling a fungus to be established in the vascular system.

Sometimes, two fungi will interact. Eremothecium gossypii and Bjerkanda ajusta co-exist because they both provide the chemicals they both need to colonise wood.  Viruses can also affect fungi in a tree. 

For some, they increase vitality and for others they decrease it.

For example, there is a virus used to control leaf blight in Horse Chestnut. 

It works by reducing the vigour of that fungus.

Some fungi kill insect pests, others have a more symbiotic relationship.  

Finally, fungi can attack each other.  A saprophytic fungus may start the process of decay in the host and provide the opportunity for a more aggressive parasitic fungus to be established.  What is evident is that these relationships can be complex and dynamic.

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