Saturday, 11 May 2013

Survival of the Poisonous: "Ophiocordyceps vs. Ant"

The parasitic Ophiocordyceps unilateralis fungus became famous for its incredible capacity to force ants walk towards their own suicide for the benefit of the fungus. This horrible zombie pattern is so famous and worldwide known that it was granted many hours of TV broadcasting. 

This fungus needs a determined temperature to flourish, but it cannot have access to the desired area just because it has no legs to do the way. Thus, a carrier previously shot with spores plays the crucial role in this necromancy pathway. The ant provides nutrients and a safe environment for the fungus; chemicals produced by the fungus induce the ant's brain (where the fungus is installed) to climb up the vegetation and find a nice sunny comfortable deathbed, and finally when all the conditions are perfect for the fungus to emerge, it's business time... and the horror show happens. The fungus cracks the ant open from inside out and the ant is no more, if ever was.

It's ever more disturbing when one realises that the colony rejects these infected individuals placing them far away from the healthy group. Makes one love our family and also the National Health Service!

There are plenty of good webpages and programs about this topic, so it would be slightly irresponsible to develop something that is so well portrayed and resumed. Nevertheless, just take a look at this incredile video hereby embedded and learn why the victory was always on the fungus side in this second Toxic Battle The Toxicologist Today has brought to you.

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