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Make the plants hard to eat, both while alive and after death. This can be simply tough molecules -- trees can take centuries to decay even on earth -- or heavy metals, or toxic compounds. Such animals as manage must cope with this by not growing too large and requiring more food than they can cope with.


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Trees evolved to have more access to light, as a taller plant can cover a smaller plant, and remove its competition. Without light, this strategy doesn't work, and so these chemotrophs will most likely not evolve to become trees


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