Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Four new species of Zombie ant fungi discovered in Brazilian rainforest

Date:
March 3, 2011
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
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.

a) Original plate from the 1865 Selecta Fungorum Carpologia of the Tulasne brothers [4], illustrating the holotype of Ophiocordyceps (Torrubia) unilateralis and said to be on the leaf-cutting ant, Atta cephalotes; b) Detail from plate showing the distinctive pronotal plate of Camponotus sericeiventris, as well as a side view of the host which is clearly a carpenter ant and not a leaf-cutter; compare with c) Live worker of C. sericeiventris showing the spines on the pronotal plate (arrow).
Credit: Harry C. Evans et al. PLoS ONE, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0017024

Four new Brazilian species in the genus Ophiocordyceps have been published in the online journal PLoS ONE. The fungi, named by Dr. Harry Evans and Dr. David Hughes, 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.

These results appear in a paper by Evans et al. entitled Hidden Diversity Behind the Zombie-Ant Fungus Ophiocordyceps unilateralis: Four New Species Described from Carpenter Ants in Minas Gerais, Brazil. This paper is the first to validly publish new fungal names in an online-only journal while still complying with the rules and recommendations of the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN).

Beyond this important milestone, the paper is noteworthy for the attention it draws to undiscovered, complex, biological interactions in threatened habitats. The four new species all come from the Atlantic Rainforest of Brazil which is the most heavily degraded biodiversity hotspot on the planet. Ninety-two percent of its original coverage is gone.

The effect of biodiversity loss on community structure is well known. What researchers don't know is how parasites, such as these zombie-inducing fungi, cope with fragmentation. Here the authors show that each of the four species is highly specialized on one ant species and has a suite of adaptations and spore types to ensure infection. The life-cycle of these fungi that infect, manipulate and kill ants before growing spore producing stalks from their heads is remarkably complicated. The present work establishes the identification tools to move forward and ask how forest fragmentation affects such disease dynamics.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Harry C. Evans, Simon L. Elliot, David P. Hughes. Hidden Diversity Behind the Zombie-Ant Fungus Ophiocordyceps unilateralis: Four New Species Described from Carpenter Ants in Minas Gerais, Brazil. PLoS ONE, 2011; 6 (3): e17024 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0017024

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Four new species of Zombie ant fungi discovered in Brazilian rainforest." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110302171309.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2011, March 3). Four new species of Zombie ant fungi discovered in Brazilian rainforest. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110302171309.htm
Public Library of Science. "Four new species of Zombie ant fungi discovered in Brazilian rainforest." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110302171309.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

AP (July 22, 2014) An 80-year-old agave plant, which is blooming for the first and only time at a University of Michigan conservatory, will die when it's done (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

Reuters - US Online Video (July 21, 2014) An endangered black rhino baby is the newest resident at the San Diego Zoo. Sasha Salama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins