Zombie movies have a huge fan following, and movies like Dawn of the Dead have chilled the spines of the audience. Until now, it was believed that the concept of Zombie is fictional, but a new study report has revealed that the dreaded condition that turns creatures into deadly eating machines is a reality.
As per the study report published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, ants infected with a deadly virus named Ophiocordyceps unilateralis will turn these creatures into zombie-like beings. The study report revealed that ants that come into contact with this deadly virus have their jaw muscles taken over until they eventually die.
Colleen Mangold, a researcher at Pennsylvania University and the lead author of the study suggested that this fungus will not affect the brain of these creatures directly, instead, the mandibular muscles of ants get extensively colonized by the fungus. During the study, researchers also noted that the infected muscles showed clear evidence of hyper contraction. Researchers also saw infected ants clamping their jaws tightly onto a leaf vein or twig.
"We found that infected muscles show evidence of hyper contraction. Despite the extensive colonization, both motor neurons and neuromuscular junctions appear to be maintained. The infection results in sarcolemmal damage, but this is not specific to the death grip. We found evidence of precise penetration of muscles by fungal structures and the presence of extracellular vesicle-like particles, both of which may contribute to mandibular hyper contraction," wrote the researchers in the study report.
The study report also noted that this fungus is largely prevalent among ants that live in Brazil, Africa, and Thailand.
A few months back, a study had indicated that a dangerous zombie pathogen is killing thousands of amphibians in the water world. In the study report, researchers revealed that a pathogen named Chytridiomycosis or chytrid fungus is responsible for this mass massacre. As per the study report, this pathogen has already killed 90 species of aquatic animals.