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Tech & Science This nightmare fungus turns ants into zombies and controls their every movement

03:38  15 november  2017
03:38  15 november  2017 Source:   techly.com.au

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The zombie ant fungus , which scientists call Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, was discovered way back in 1859 and hit the mainstream when it was featured in The fungus then continues to grow, eventually piercing the ant ’s head’s head and shooting spores into the air to infect other ants . Nature is so damn

From here, the fungus continues to grow and fester inside the ant ’s body, eventually piercing through the ant ’s head and releasing its fungal spores. Carpenter ants of the Brazilian rain forest have it rough. When one of these insects gets infected by a certain fungus , it turns into a so-called “ zombie

Ants.© Getty Ants.

Their brains aren’t the problem.

Those poor old ants that become zombies thanks to fungus are back in the news again.

According to a new study published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, it’s the ants’ muscles rather than their brains that are infected.

The zombie ant fungus, which scientists call Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, was discovered way back in 1859 and hit the mainstream when it was featured in an episode of 2006’s Planet Earth.

The fungus infects the ant, then takes control of its body and forces it to bite into leaf and stay there until it dies. It’s forced vegetation by fungus resulting in death.

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~~~~~ The idea of a fungal parasite that infects ants to turn them into zombies by controling their behaviour may sound like an idea from a science Previous studies have shown that the zombie parasite controls the behaviour of carpenter ant workers, making them climb vegetation and bite into

Imagine your body being manipulated like a puppet while your conscious brain watches. For some species of ants , this seemingly sci-fi scenario is

The fungus then continues to grow, eventually piercing the ant’s head’s head and shooting spores into the air to infect other ants. Nature is so damn metal sometimes.

Using 3D images, AI and machine-learning algorithms, the researchers looked at cell-level interactions between the fungal parasite and the ant host and found that fungus cells surrounded the ant’s muscle fibres but did infect the brain.

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When the fungus infects a carpenter ant , it grows through the insect’s body, draining it of The fungus ’s skill at colonizing ants is surpassed only by its skill at colonizing popular culture. Hughes’s student Maridel Fredericksen used a special microscope to julienne infected ants into slices that were

Instead, this fungus infects an unfortunate insect, turning it into a mindless zombie and control of its body until the fungus matures, erupting from the… What we do know is that when ants are infected their behavior changes. Instead of moving about normally high in the forest canopy, they lose control

“Normally in animals, behaviour is controlled by the brain sending signals to the muscles, but our results suggest that the parasite is controlling host behaviour peripherally,” said senior author of the study David Hughes. “Almost like a puppeteer pulls the strings to make a marionette move, the fungus controls the ant’s muscles to manipulate the host’s legs and mandibles.”

Hughes and his colleagues believe that the fungus might preserve the ant’s brain so that it can survive long enough to perform its final biting act. You just have to admire the evil brilliance of that.

Gamers might notice the term “Ophiocordyceps” as being a little familiar.

In the 2013 game The Last of Us, the fungal infection that almost wipes out humanity is called “cordyceps” and functions in a very similar way. This is no coincidence and in an interview, the game’s creators even said that the zombie ants were an important inspiration. Yeah science!

Cordyceps is super bad news for ants but good news for us, because The Last of Us Part 2 is officially on the way.

The teaser trailer was revealed at last year’s PlayStation Experience and a brutal snippet of the game was recently released at Paris Games Week.

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