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Behold, a crocodile. The only thing that they have to worry about is hunger when they cannot catch a meal, and camouflage that is better than the eyes of their prey. What if a species of mushroom started growing on their skins in a symbiotic relationship. The fungus provides camouflage and the croc provides a meal. If enough radiation were induced to fuse the two entities together, could the croc have offspring born with mushrooms? And is this plausible at all? Thanks!

EDIT: Maybe check out the Mesodinium chamaeleon? It’s part plant part animal.

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    $\begingroup$ Regarding the first half of the question, see arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi $\endgroup$ – Plinth Jun 25 at 2:41
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    $\begingroup$ Re, "enough radiation...to fuse the two entities." I think that could be an entirely different question e.g., "I need different species of living organism to be 'fused together' by some kind of radiation. How can I explain it?" $\endgroup$ – Solomon Slow Jun 26 at 13:08
  • $\begingroup$ This immediately reminds me of Orks from WH40K. $\endgroup$ – Vilx- Jun 26 at 18:26
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The croc offspring could acquire its mushrooms shortly after birth.

Lots of things have commensal organisms. We are loaded with them, inside and out. They help us in many ways, not least of which they keep worse things from moving in. They are good renters, a lot of our commensals.

It is tricky to pass a commensal along the germline. Almost always the commensals move in after the fact. It is a lot easier for young to acquire them as soon as they are born. We get ours via close contact with our mothers. Some of her commensal organisms get on us and become ours.

Your croc could do the same. Perhaps a shroom croc rolls in the nest before laying eggs. She is not planning ahead for her young because she is not that smart, but her ancestors who rolled in their fresh nests had better genetic fitness than those who did not, just as long before them the ancestors which built nests at all had better fitness than those that did not.

Fragments of her mushroom colony break off and remain in the nest. Then when the young hatch, they crawl around on those mushroom fragments which take root. A new generation of shroomcrocs!

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    $\begingroup$ This is brilliant! Besides the reproduction, the rest seems alright to you? Thanks so much $\endgroup$ – Comrade Mango Jun 25 at 1:47
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    $\begingroup$ There are thousands of kinds of bacteria that spread just this way - how do you think you get intestinal flora? from mom, shortly after birth. Your crocs could even have eggs covered in mushroom spores without any rolling. $\endgroup$ – DWKraus Jun 25 at 2:01
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    $\begingroup$ @ComradeMango - yeah it seems totally workable. In fact I have wondered about algae on crocs and alligators. Some of them get covered with it and it does not wash off. I am sure it helps with camouflage. I wonder if they encourage it in some way. $\endgroup$ – Willk Jun 25 at 2:27
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    $\begingroup$ algae are preferable to fungi, fungi need to eat, while algae only needs water and sunlight. $\endgroup$ – John Jun 25 at 4:33
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    $\begingroup$ @ComradeMango Lichens are a symbiosis of fungi and algae. $\endgroup$ – smcs Jun 25 at 13:34
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Fungus reproduce by spores, so the host would pass on the fungus to others through interplay.

Many pathogens are indeed fungal in nature like Histoplasma, Pneumocystis, and Cryptococcus

this are just three examples of pathogenic Fungus.

as a matter of fact, fungus is a pathogen type playable in the game Plague Inc.

also, if the spores enter the reproductive track, then the offspring could contract the disease as well.

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    $\begingroup$ Actually all healthy humans carry fungi in them as well! $\endgroup$ – smcs Jun 25 at 13:36
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Pre-birth infection

You are covered in microflora both on the outside and also on the inside - both your mouth and genital tract are colonized by various microorganisms.

A symbiotic fungus living on the crocodile skin would likely also live in their cloaca. While ovaries generally are sterile, it seems quite feasible to imagine the fungus infecting the egg during the fertilization process, moving in together with the sperm, in which case the fungus (or its spores) would arrive before the egg shell is formed, and thus could be on the exterior of the egg yolk but inside the shell.

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A woman with a nut allergy received an allergic reaction from coming into contact with her sexual partner's semen. As it turns out, the partner ate brazil nuts a few hours earlier, and as the brazil nut's protein resists digestion, it can actually be passed on sexually.

Link for reference.

Based on that real life event, there's plausibility to a fungus being able to pass itself on via the reproductive cells of an animal, thereby infecting at least the mother (even if not the child).

Given animals' tendency to at least somewhat interact with their offspring, or to at least be in the vicinity when they are born, transferring it from the mother to the newborn doesn't seem that far-fetched.

I'm no biologist, but even if crocodiles were to lay an egg and immediately abandon it, you can argue that the infected mother ended up contaminating the egg shell itself, and when the shell is broken when the youngling emerges, it releases spores which the youngling breathes in.

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    $\begingroup$ A “nut” allergy? You absolute mad lad, take this upvote! $\endgroup$ – Comrade Mango Jun 26 at 16:12
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Read about mitochondria

They are believed to have originally been symbiotic cells in humans most eukaryotic organisms that are now passed on by mother. It is the only part of the body that contains DNA only from the mother.

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  • $\begingroup$ In order for a mitochondrial-style inheritance, the fungus would need to grow inside the host's cells--and to my surprise, it seems that fungi can indeed do this! So intracellular symbiosis seems plausible. $\endgroup$ – ApproachingDarknessFish Jun 25 at 20:42
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    $\begingroup$ "It is the only part of the body that does not contain DNA from the father" not exactly. The mitochondria is the only part of a cell that contains only DNA from the mother. Every other part of the cell besides the nucleus, and all non-cellular body parts, contain no DNA at all, neither maternal nor paternal. $\endgroup$ – ApproachingDarknessFish Jun 25 at 20:46
  • $\begingroup$ @ApproachingDarknessFish thank you, corrected $\endgroup$ – James Jenkins Jun 26 at 8:38
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    $\begingroup$ Your edit is half right; I think you meant to also change "does not contain" to "contains". $\endgroup$ – Matthew Jun 26 at 14:12

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