Zombie ant fungi discovery in Brazil

This video is called Cordyceps: attack of the killer fungi – Planet Earth Attenborough BBC wildlife.

Four new Brazilian species in the genus Ophiocordyceps have been discovered. The fungi belong to a group of “zombifying” fungi that infect ants and then manipulate their behavior, eventually killing the ants after securing a prime location for spore dispersal: here. And here.

March 2011: A bizarre so-called zombie ant fungi which takes control over the minds of ants before killing them and sprouting from the insects‘ heads, has been found to be four separate species, rather than the one originally thought: here.

May 2012. A parasite that fights the zombie-ant fungus has yielded some of its secrets to an international research team led by David Hughes of Penn State University. The research reveals, for the first time, how an entire ant colony is able to survive infestations by the zombie-ant fungus, which invades an ant’s brain and causes it to march to its death at a mass grave near the ant colony, where the fungus spores erupt out of the ant’s head. “In a case where biology is stranger than fiction, the parasite of the zombie-ant fungus is itself a fungus — a hyperparasitic fungus that specializes in attacking the parasite that turns the ants into zombies,” Hughes said: here.

An ancient developmental potential to form ‘supersoldiers’ facilitates the recurrent evolution of this subcaste in various species of Pheidole ants: here.

2 thoughts on “Zombie ant fungi discovery in Brazil

  1. Pingback: New Philippines ant species discovery | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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