The fungus that turns ants into "zombies"
The parasite that makes zombie master, controlling his behavior than not the plot for a horror movie? However, such organisms exist in real life, and a new scientific study has shown that they are much worse than previously thought.
It is known that the parasite Cordyceps sided controls the behavior of carpenter ants, causing them to leave the colonies and secured on a favorable spot for the fungus. Then the fungus sprouting from the head of its support and continues to spread spores infecting other ants.
However, until now the mechanism of transformation of the media into a zombie was unknown, reports The Daily Mail. American scientists from the University of Pennsylvania suggested that a one-sided Cordyceps penetrates the muscle fibers around the body of the host.
The investigators examined the interaction between the parasite and ant at the cellular level, finding that allocates Cordyceps tissue-specific metabolites and causes changes in gene expression of the host, as well as atrophy of the muscles of the mandible. However, it was not entirely clear how the fungus is coordinating these mechanisms. To find out, the scientists infected carpenter ants deliberately parasite, and then created a 3D-visualization of the process of establishing control over the host of the fungus body.
Using artificial intelligence algorithms, the researchers analyzed the images and found that the parasite cells spread throughout the body ant, including the head, chest, abdomen and legs. Fungal cells working smoothly, forming a network to monitor the behavior of the host. In fact, the infected ant was no longer an ant. Rather, it was a parasitic fungus in the "meat armor" of the ant.