Saturday, June 11, 2011
Does Ants have fungus on brain.
Tropical carpenter ants (Camponotus Leonardo) live high up in the rainforest canopy. When infected by a parasitic fungus (Ophiocordyceps unilateralis) the behavior of the ants is dramatically changed. They become erratic and zombie-like, and are manipulated by the fungus into dying at a spot that provides optimal conditions for fungal reproduction. New research, published in Biomed Central's open access journal BMC Ecology, looks at altered behavior patterns in Zombie ants in Thailand and shows how the fungus manipulates ant behavior.
A multinational team of scientists investigated O. unilateralis infected carpenter ants in Thailand's rainforest. The growing fungus fills the ant's body and head causing muscles to atrophy and forcing muscle fibers apart. The fungus also affects the ant's central nervous system and 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 a lower, leafy, 'understory' which, at about 25cm above the soil was cooler and moister than the canopy, provided ideal conditions for the fungus to thrive.........