Shopping Cart
Your Cart is Empty
There was an error with PayPalClick here to try again
CelebrateThank you for your business!You should be receiving an order confirmation from Paypal shortly.Exit Shopping Cart

Dr. Pierre Mariotte

Toward sustainable agrosystems and preserved ecosystems



Some fungi make zombies

Posted on March 30, 2015 at 7:25 PM


You need Adobe Flash Player to view this content.


(Presented by Cat Adams / BBC Campus)

While some fungi produce their own wind, other fungi produce the stuff of nightmares.

In tropical forests around the world, species of the fungal genus Ophiocordyceps infect carpenter ants, landing on the ant and then burrowing into its brain.

But this is no simple brain-siege. In Thailand, for example, Ophiocordyceps unilateralis first causes the ant to walk erratically, eventually plummeting from its normal home in the canopy to the forest floor below. The fungus then directs the ant to traverse up trees a precise number of centimetres, just less than a metre above the ground, where the temperature and humidity are ideal for fungi to thrive.

The fungus can control not only the height the ant travels to, but also the direction the ant faces, which is usually north-northwest. An uninfected ant would normally not bite a leaf, but infected ants do, clamping down on the underside of a leaf, almost always in the very middle of the leaf, where it is strongest. Like something from an science fiction story, the zombie ant bites down at precisely solar noon.

The ant then dies in this unusual position, stiff with postmortem lockjaw due to muscle atrophy from the fungi rapidly growing in its head. For up to two weeks, the ant corpse remains locked to the leaf while the fungus reproduces, eventually raining spores on unsuspecting healthy ants walking below, carrying food to their nests in the canopy.

And the zombification cycle repeats.

The zombie ant fungus Ophiocordyceps has perfected zombification to a science that has inspired both movies and video games, and was recently the topic of a science crowdfunding campaign to determine which genes are important for the fungus to control its host.

Everybody loves a good zombie story, perhaps the zombie-makers most of all.


Categories: Incredible Nature

Post a Comment


Oops, you forgot something.


The words you entered did not match the given text. Please try again.

Already a member? Sign In


Reply accunlima
7:49 AM on September 24, 2021 - buy zithromax online research purposes only
Reply Prednisone
10:43 AM on October 2, 2021 
Generic Viagra Canada Rx
Reply fendarm
4:26 PM on October 3, 2021 
neurontine and codine
Reply Neurontine
4:05 AM on October 4, 2021 
Viagra Soft Tablets
Reply HarlbrucH
7:57 AM on October 7, 2021 - gabapentin reviews
Reply illeseVak
3:13 AM on October 9, 2021 
prednisone 20mg tab
Reply spotoca
10:21 PM on October 9, 2021 
Reply Viagra
6:57 PM on October 29, 2021 
Como Comprar Viagra En Usa
Reply finasteride over the counter
8:49 AM on October 31, 2021 
Viagra Roma
Reply Imarmaf
2:21 PM on October 31, 2021 
Reply Raishsazy
2:40 AM on November 1, 2021 
buy stromectol for humans
Reply Chiedetic
11:01 AM on November 1, 2021 
Reply Veiseevot
10:26 PM on November 1, 2021 
Reply diahhoose
5:00 PM on November 2, 2021 
Reply gyclany
7:01 PM on November 3, 2021 
Reply will viagra become generic
11:21 PM on November 4, 2021 
Nebenwirkungen Cialis 10mg
Reply Cialis
8:52 AM on November 6, 2021 
street value of cialis
7:33 AM on November 7, 2021 
can women take propecia
Reply buy cialis online prescription
7:20 PM on November 7, 2021 
Discount Where To Buy Secure Ordering Hydrochlorothiazide Internet Medication Swansea
Reply Lasix
11:15 PM on November 7, 2021 
Cialis Generica Tadalafil