Zombie Ant Fungus

Mankind is pretty smug, we see ourselves as jewels in the evolutionary crown – top of the food chain, dominant species, masters of our domain, Terms like “natural order” or “balance of nature” play second fiddle to foolish notions of superiority.  Language and opposable thumbs gave birth to civilization,  evolution dealt us a good hand. We tend to forget nature dealt every species a great hand.

Consider a spore producing organism – no brain, nervous system or ability to move other than mature spores catching a breeze or falling to the ground – you’re pondering Fungus. Now imagine spores that only attach themselves to carpenter ants – spores able to kill hosts just outside their home, use the corpse to mature, grow new spores, and toss them to the ground. Spores guaranteed to infect oblivious ants entering the nest – now you’re pondering Zombie Ant Fungus.

Assistant professor David Hughes of the Entomology Dept. at Penn State c0-authored a paper on Zombie Ant Fungus.

“Ants are remarkably adept at cleaning the interior of the nest to prevent diseases. But we also found that this fungal parasite can’t grow to the stage suitable for transmission inside the nest whether ants are present or not.”

“What the zombie fungi essentially do is create a sniper’s alley through which their future hosts must pass. The parasite doesn’t need to evolve mechanisms to overcome the effective social immunity that occurs inside the nest. At the same time, it ensures a constant supply of susceptible hosts.” – David Hughes

Nature runs a tight ship, evolution knows when to act and react. Zombie fungus isn’t a freakish accident. Dealt the hand needed to maintain balance – a hand no different than the one we got – everything happens for a reason. there’s a reason for everything. If nature decides mankind needs a zombie fungus  – use your opposable thumb to tweet #Zombiespores.

 

http://earthsky.org/earth/zombie-ant-fungus-kills-its-hosts-on-the-doorstep-of-their-nest?utm_source=EarthSky+News&utm_campaign=90a5dc27d3-EarthSky_News&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c643945d79-90a5dc27d3-393970565

Advertisements

10 thoughts on “Zombie Ant Fungus

  1. I remember reading about a mould/sporish/fungusy/whatever whose name I’ve long forgotten that is quite happy being itself, but when the need arises rearranges itself into a sort of a ‘creature’ that can (walk?) move from there to somewhere else—at which point it devolves back into being a goop/whatever once again.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s