Once the zombie ant is dead, “toxic spores bloom” from its head and drift to the ground below where it finds new victims to infect.
Biologists from Penn State University teamed up with computer scientists from the University of Notre Dame to discover how the zombie ant fungus takes control of its victims.
The team developed 3-D images of the scenario to figure out how the fungal cells interact inside the ant’s body.
This fungal reproductive activity must take place outside the ant colony, in part because of the ants’ social immunity, which is collective action taken to limit disease spread, Hughes told Penn State News.
In terms of artificial intelligence research, “this is quite a new technique that people might be excited about,” Charissa de Bekker, a professor at the University of Central Florida told National Geographic.