|Bug infected with Metarhizium- K. Knight.|
|Metarhizium spores- Truman.edu|
Normally plants absorb nitrogen from the soil which is produced by nitrogen fixing bacteria- think clover and legumes. Nitrogen is also produced by bacteria breaking down decaying plant material and in some cases by fire. A few plants such as the Venus flytrap and pitcher plants have even been able to catch their own nitrogen by collecting insects.
In the study reported in naturalhistorymag.com/ scientists inserted a nitrogen marker isotope into waxmoths Galleria mellonella. They had planted "Phaseolus vulgaris, the quick-growing haricot bean, and Panicum virgatum, a slower-growing perennial bunchgrass" in sterilized soil. Then they introduced waxmoth larvae infected with either Metarhizium fungus or Aspergillus flavus which is a non endophytic insect fungus. Plants without any larvae served as controls.
They found that the plants with the Metarhizium fungus infected waxmoth larvae had higher levels of the nitrogen isotope in their leaves than those sterile or Aspergillis infected larvae. The plants are essentially being fed the digested and processed nitrogen isotope by the Metarhizium fungus. Now that's marriage with benefits.
Science journal abstract.