Friday, January 25, 2008

Cordyceps...

One of the neatest gifts I got this past Squidmas was the Planet Earth series on DVD. While J and I were at my mother’s house on Squidmas day, we took an hour or two to watch the Jungles episode. One of the most striking features of the Jungles episode was the bit on Cordyceps, a parasitic fungus that invades the bodies of mostly arthropods and some fungi.

The species of Cordyceps I find most fascinating is Cordyceps unilateralis which not only invades the bodies of ants, but also influences the behavior of the ants, causing them to climb to high perches from where, once the Cordyceps erupts, spores can be spread over a wide area.

Each species of Cordyceps invades only one or a very small number of species of arthropods. While Cordyceps unilateralis targets ants, Cordyceps sinensis attacks the larva of Thitarodes, a genus of Asian moth.

Here's a photo of an ant infected with Cordyceps fungus:


From http://www.american-mnh.org/

Kinda reminds me of this scene:

2 comments:

Traumador said...

LOL

I had the same thought with those fungi...

Another of my favourite parasites of that creepy nature is a worm that infects snails. It will borrow through the snail to the head and into one of the snail's head tentacles. From there it influneces the snail to also climb to a high exposed area, but in this case to get the snail EATEN by a bird. This is so the worms eggs can be spread by the bird's dung and infect more snails...

Discovered your blog a couple weeks ago, and love it!

Amanda said...

Gee thanks, Traumador. I just visited your blog and it's great! I'll add it to me blogroll.

I haven't heard of the snail...there's apparently a worm that burrows in crickets and it causes the crickets to drown themselves so that it can lay eggs in the water (the only place the eggs will hatch). And the worm is HUGE compared to a cricket. It's like a clown car show.