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      The effect of Rickia wasmannii (Ascomycota, Laboulbeniales) on the aggression and boldness of Myrmica scabrinodis (Hymenoptera, Formicidae)

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      Journal of Hymenoptera Research

      Pensoft Publishers

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          Bizarre interactions and endgames: entomopathogenic fungi and their arthropod hosts.

          Invertebrate pathogens and their hosts are taxonomically diverse. Despite this, there is one unifying concept relevant to all such parasitic associations: Both pathogen and host adapt to maximize their own reproductive output and ultimate fitness. The strategies adopted by pathogens and hosts to achieve this goal are almost as diverse as the organisms themselves, but studies examining such relationships have traditionally concentrated only on aspects of host physiology. Here we review examples of host-altered behavior and consider these within a broad ecological and evolutionary context. Research on pathogen-induced and host-mediated behavioral changes demonstrates the range of altered behaviors exhibited by invertebrates including behaviorally induced fever, elevation seeking, reduced or increased activity, reduced response to semiochemicals, and changes in reproductive behavior. These interactions are sometimes quite bizarre, intricate, and of great scientific interest.
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            Artificial Diet for Rearing Various Species of Ants

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              Behavioral mechanisms and morphological symptoms of zombie ants dying from fungal infection

              Background Parasites that manipulate host behavior can provide prominent examples of extended phenotypes: parasite genomes controlling host behavior. Here we focus on one of the most dramatic examples of behavioral manipulation, the death grip of ants infected by Ophiocordyceps fungi. We studied the interaction between O. unilateralis s.l. and its host ant Camponotus leonardi in a Thai rainforest, where infected ants descend from their canopy nests down to understory vegetation to bite into abaxial leaf veins before dying. Host mortality is concentrated in patches (graveyards) where ants die on sapling leaves ca. 25 cm above the soil surface where conditions for parasite development are optimal. Here we address whether the sequence of ant behaviors leading to the final death grip can also be interpreted as parasite adaptations and describe some of the morphological changes inside the heads of infected workers that mediate the expression of the death grip phenotype. Results We found that infected ants behave as zombies and display predictable stereotypical behaviors of random rather than directional walking, and of repeated convulsions that make them fall down and thus precludes returning to the canopy. Transitions from erratic wandering to death grips on a leaf vein were abrupt and synchronized around solar noon. We show that the mandibles of ants penetrate deeply into vein tissue and that this is accompanied by extensive atrophy of the mandibular muscles. This lock-jaw means the ant will remain attached to the leaf after death. We further present histological data to show that a high density of single celled stages of the parasite within the head capsule of dying ants are likely to be responsible for this muscular atrophy. Conclusions Extended phenotypes in ants induced by fungal infections are a complex example of behavioral manipulation requiring coordinated changes of host behavior and morphology. Future work should address the genetic basis of such extended phenotypes.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Journal of Hymenoptera Research
                JHR
                Pensoft Publishers
                1314-2607
                1070-9428
                August 31 2017
                August 31 2017
                : 58
                : 41-52
                Article
                10.3897/jhr.58.13253
                © 2017

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