Each type of these newly discovered fungi targets a specific ant species, says study leader David P. Hughes, an entomologist at Pennsylvania State University. The fungi tailor the shape of their spores to their ant hosts’ travel habits. For example, to snag solitary ants that forage over great distances across the forest floor, some fungi produce linear spores that can fly out into the forest like “buckshot,” Hughes says. As Hughes continues his world tour in Colombia and Ghana, he hopes to culture the fungi species he finds so researchers can study them in the lab. One question he wants to answer: What chemicals do the fungi deploy to brainwash the ants? Although humans don’t have to worry about fungal mind control, we’ve all made impulsive decisions that we’ve regretted.
by Michael Torrice |
March 21, 2011