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Why zombie ants do the job: chemistry: science time

July 23, 2019 09:13 am EDT

Carpenter ants are known to turn into zombie ants when they are infected with parasites Ophiocordyceps Also known as zombie ants. When an ant meets a mold spore, it is infected and the infection spreads quickly to other parts of the ant. Once an infected zombie is infected, it puts its chin on the leaf or branch and waits until it dies.

Previously, scientists believed that the ant "tuck lock" of the infected ant was manipulating the ants' minds due to the release of chemicals from fungal infections. But recently, scientists have investigated this natural study and found that mold does not control the ants' mind. Instead, it controls the muscles in the jaw of the ant.

In the uninfected carpenter ants, the electron microscope shows streaks of the jaw muscles and streaks. That is, they overlap. Colleen Mangold, a Pennsylvania State University molecular biologist at Penn State University, said that when an ant sits down on a leaf or twig, muscle stripes appear to be very swollen. They found that fungal infections cause physical damage to the jaw muscles but do not interfere with the transmission of information between the brain and the muscles. When the ant does this, the brain does not seem to communicate with the muscles.

It is not yet known how the mold regulates the muscles to make strong ants on the leaves or branches and not leave them later. But scientists are seeing how small particles appear like small grainy clusters on the infected and swollen muscle fibers of the jaw. Mangold and her team suspect that the particle could be an extracellular vesicle and that the intruder (fungus) or the host (ant) might have produced it. And if they are actually extracellular vesicles, they play an important role in discovering these particle clusters, no matter what the fungi use to manipulate the action of chemicals, messages or ants. How to control.

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