Earthworms eat seeds and seedlings, scientists have found.
The discovery they eat live rather than just dead plants will change the way we think about earthworms, which had been thought to benefit plants by recycling soil nutrients.
It may offer a way for gardeners and farmers to encourage more earthworms into their soil, for example.
But it also means invasive earthworms could be reducing populations of plants in once pristine soils.
Confirmation that earthworms feed on living plants is published in the journal Soil Biology and Biochemistry by Dr Nico Eisenhauer of the Georg-August-University Göttingen in Germany.