Slugs help mushrooms start new colonies by spreading spores through their faeces

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Mantleslugs carry spores of dozens of fungal species in their faeces, and some of them even begin to germinate within the moist digestive tracts



Life



24 February 2022

Slug species feeding on oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus)

Mantleslugs feeding on oyster mushrooms

Nobuko Tuno

Some mushroom-eating slugs may be important – if slow – dispersal vehicles for fungal spores, which the animals spread through their faeces.

The languid molluscs deliver payloads of spores from a wide range of forest fungi, including honey (Armillaria) and rustgill (Gymnopilus) mushrooms, to microhabitats that are perfect for new fungal colonies.

Nobuko Tuno at Kanazawa University in Japan had been studying the potential for fungi to make use of animals as spore dispersers. But she didn’t think much about slugs in this role, since they …

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