Navigation Links
Zombie ants have fungus on the brain, new research reveals
Date:5/9/2011

New research has revealed how infection by a parasitic fungus dramatically changes the behavior of tropical of carpenter ants (species Camponotus leonardi), causing them to become zombie-like and to die at a spot that has optimal reproduction conditions for the fungus. The multinational research team studied ants living high up in the rainforest canopy in Thailand. A paper describing the research will be published in the BioMed Central open-access journal BMC Ecology on 9 May 2011.

"The behavior of these infected zombie ants essentially causes their bodies to become an extension of the fungus's own phenotype, as non-infected ants never behave in this way," said David P. Hughes, the first author of the research paper and an assistant professor of entomology and biology at Penn State University.

Using transmission-electron and light microscopes, the researchers were able to look inside the ant in order to determine the effect of the fungus on the ant. They found that the growing fungus fills the ant's body and head, causing muscles to atrophy and forcing muscle fibres to spread apart. The fungus also affects the ant's central nervous system. The scientists observed that, while normal worker ants rarely left the trail, zombie ants walked in a random manner, unable to find their way home. The ants also suffered convulsions, which caused them to fall to the ground. Once on the ground, the ants were unable to find their way back to the canopy and remained at the lower, leafy understory area which, at about 9 or 10 inches (25 cm) above the soil, was cooler and moister than the canopy, provided ideal conditions for the fungus to thrive.

The scientists found that at solar noon, when the Sun is at its strongest, the fungus synchronised ant behavior, forcing infected ants to bite the main vein on the underside of a leaf. The multiplying fungal cells in the ant's head cause fibres within the muscles that open and close the ant's mandibles to become detached, causing "lock jaw," which makes an infected ant unable to release the leaf, even after death. A few days later, the fungus grows through the ant's head a fruiting body, a stroma, which releases spores to be picked up by another wandering ant.

"The fungus attacks the ants on two fronts: first by using the ant as a walking food source, and second by damaging muscle and the ant's central nervous system," Hughes said. "The result for the ant is zombie walking and the death bite, which place the ant in the cool, damp understory. Together these events provide the perfect environment for fungal growth and reproduction."

Hughes said his continuing research at Penn State is designed to learn how the fungus might be used to control pest insects in homes and farms.


'/>"/>

Contact: Barbara Kennedy
science@psu.edu
814-863-4682
Penn State
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Zombie ants have fungus on the brain
2. Fossil reveals 48-million-year history of zombie ants
3. New phorid fly species turns red imported fire ants into zombies
4. Scientists track evolution and spread of deadly fungus, one of the worlds major killers
5. Rare Pennsylvania fungus is named for Philadelphia botanist
6. Simple fungus reveals clue to immune system protection
7. Texas-bound: Fungus keeps Texas leaf-cutter ants from spreading
8. Uncovering the genome secrets of the Blackleg fungus
9. Toward controlling fungus that caused Irish potato famine
10. X-ray diffraction may play key role in stopping kissing bug, fungus
11. Microbiologists find source of fungus’s damaging growth
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Zombie ants have fungus on the brain, new research reveals
(Date:1/7/2016)... Jan. 7, 2016 This BCC Research report ... biometric technologies and devices, identifying newer markets and exploring ... types of biometric devices. Includes forecast from 2015 to ... newer markets and explore the expansion of the present ... each type of biometric technology, determine its current market ...
(Date:1/7/2016)...  A United States District Court in ... country to interpret a biometric privacy statute in a ... the photo website Shutterfly brought by the law firm Carey ... vs. SHUTTERFLY, INC.; and THISLIFE, INC ( N.D. Ill ... the Illinois Biometric Privacy Act by collecting and scanning ...
(Date:1/6/2016)... Jan. 6, 2016 Based on its ... & Sullivan recognizes MorphoTrak, LLC, a U.S. subsidiary ... Frost & Sullivan Company of the Year Award. ... technology, Morpho Wave™ , has consolidated the company,s ... biometrics market. Morpho Wave is a highly ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/5/2016)... Australian-US drug discovery and development company, Novogen Limited (ASX:NRT; NASDAQ: ... Chairman, Mr John O,Connor , and new Deputy Chairman, ... James Garner , has also been formally appointed to the ... Iain Ross , will resume his role on the ... , has also been formally appointed to the Board as ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... Falls Church, VA (PRWEB) , ... ... ... a first-year cybersecurity conference presented by Bloomsburg University’s Digital Forensics Club, takes ... Bloomsburg, PA. The two-day event features 20+ speakers and activities such as ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... N.J. , Feb. 4, 2016 ContraVir ... focused on the development and commercialization of targeted antiviral ... CEO & Investor Conference 2016, to be held February ... Source Capital Group,s 2016 Disruptive Growth & Healthcare Conference, ... on February 10-11, 2016. James Sapirstein , ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Many of the engineers at FireflySci, Inc. have been manufacturing ... apart from other cuvette manufacturers is their supercharged customer service and their extensive database ... this steady flow of inside information, they have recently revamped their manufacturing techniques to ...
Breaking Biology Technology: