Wednesday, Dec. 07, 2011

Night of the Living Ants!

Scientists who study fungi can go their entire careers without ever having something cool to bring up at cocktail parties and then bam! You discover the zombie ant fungus and everything changes. That's what investigators studying carpenter ants in Brazil learned when they identified four species of fungi that infect four different types of carpenter ants, effectively zombifying them. Once inside the ants, the fungi manipulate their behavior, forcing them to wander until they're in a particularly fertile spot for spore dispersal. The fungus then kills the host, uses its remains as a growth medium, and spreads out to zombify another day.