Tropical birds build nests from fungi that may keep parasites at bay

Many birds’ nests in tropical rainforests contain rhizomorphs, fungal structures that produce defensive chemicals, which may protect nestlings from parasites

Life 16 August 2022

a nest largely made of fungal rhizophores (one actually has a couple of fruiting bodies, that is mushrooms, coming out of it)

A nest largely made of fungal rhizomorphs

Rachel Koch Bach

Fungi woven into birds’ nests may not only help keep nests flexible and intact, but also control nestling-attacking parasites by releasing antibiotics and volatile chemicals.

Baby birds, especially when naked and newly hatched, should be vulnerable to skin infections and parasites. Yet even in the stuffy confines of a nest in a steamy tropical rainforest, nestlings generally manage to remain fester-free. Why this is has long puzzled scientists, but Catherine Aime at Purdue University in Indiana and her colleagues wondered if they may …

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