Ophiocordyceps unilateralis (Cordyceps unilateralis) - Page 7

Insects Brainwashed by Fungi Parasites - Page 7

Ophiocordyceps unilateralis (Cordyceps unilateralis)

Ophiocordyceps unilateralis is an entomopathogen, or insect-pathogenising fungus currently found predominantly in tropical forest ecosystems. O. unilateralis infects ants of the Camponotini tribe, with the full pathogenesis being characterized by alteration of the behavioral patterns of the infected ant. Infected hosts leave their canopy nests and foraging trails for the forest floor, an area with a temperature and humidity suitable for fungal growth; they then use their mandibles to affix themselves to a major vein on the underside of a leaf, where the host remains until its eventual death. The process leading to mortality takes 4-10 days, and includes a reproductive stage where fruiting bodies grow from the ant's head, rupturing to release the fungus's spores. O. unilateralis is in turn also susceptible to fungal infection itself, an occurrence which can limit its impact on ant populations, which has otherwise been known to devastate ant colonies.

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