Tuesday, May 31, 2011

ZOOLOGY - Ants manipulated by fungi

The scene is worthy of a horror movie, décritDer Spiegel: a fungus invades the nervous system of the individual to take control of his every move. The individual in question is an ant species Camponotus Leonardi and a parasite invader species Ophiocordyceps unilateral; parasitoid rather than parasitic, elsewhere: a parasite never kills its host, while O.

unilateral eventually destroys its host ant. The fungus always follows the same procedure: it infects the insect is spreading in his body through his nervous system and enslave the animal to bring it down from the canopy to reach the ground, where moisture conditions and temperature are more favorable to the parasitoid.

Before dying, the ant bites into a leaf. The intruder then feeds on the animal to grow and spread its spores, which fall on a new victim. The phenomenon is known - without being fully understood. Articles published in PLoS ONE early March and early May in BMC Ecology shed light on the process by which the fungus alters the behavior of its host: the invaders destroy the muscles of its prey.

Remains now to discover why the ants bite into a piece when he died and always at the same time of day.

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