posted on Mar, 10 2011 @ 09:12 PM
Once the "stalk of the newfound fungus species Ophiocordyceps camponoti-balzani infects an ant, the ant gives up control over its own body. After the
fungus is in control, it forces the ant to scamper toward "a location ideal for the fungi to grow and spread their spores." Then, it's lights out
for the ant. Who knew a fungus could be so diabolical?
Beyond this important milestone, the paper also draws attention to undiscovered, complex, biological interactions in threatened habitats. The four new
species all come from the Atlantic Rainforest of Brazil which is the most heavily degraded biodiversity hotspot on the planet. Ninety-two percent of
its original coverage is gone. The effect of biodiversity loss on community structure is well known. What researchers don’t know is how parasites,
such as these zombie-inducing fungi, cope with fragmentation. The authors show that each of the four species is highly specialized on one ant species
and has a suite of adaptations and spore types to ensure infection. The life-cycle of these fungi that infect, manipulate and kill ants before growing
spore producing stalks from their heads is remarkably complicated. The present work establishes the identification tools to move forward and ask how
forest fragmentation affects such disease dynamics.
Conclusions: We are only just beginning to understand the taxonomy and ecology of the Ophiocordyceps unilateralis species complex associated with
carpenter ants; macroscopically characterised by a single stalk arising from the dorsal neck region of the ant host on which the anamorph occupies the
terminal region and the teleomorph occurs as lateral cushions or plates.
I have no idea how this works,maybe it affects the synapses and neurotransmiters or maybe it produces some kind of neurotransmitter, i don't know,
but once they crack this with little bit of research some non-ant application could be found. I believe this is the first time something of this
nature is being discovered and i find it interesting when considering the possibilities.