Underground Hijinks: Thieving plants hack into biggest fungal network

11:16am, September 25, 2002

Some sneak-thief plants have tapped into the most widespread network of soil fungi, and they're using it to steal food from respectable green plants, according to a new study of underground connections.

Roots of three kinds of parasitic plants with no chlorophyll of their own have intertwining connections with fungi called arbuscular mycorrhizae, says Martin Bidartondo of University of California, Berkeley. Hundreds of thousands of green-plant species also have such a connection, and they too might be sneaking food from each other, speculate Bidartondo and his colleagues in the Sept. 26 Nature.

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