Zombie flies: Scientists discover flies that turn into ‘zombies’ when infected by new fungi


Team Udayavani, Dec 17, 2020, 5:03 PM IST

Scientists in Denmark have discovered two new fungi species that ‘zombify’ flies and eject spores out of a large hole in the insect’s abdomen “like small rockets”.

The fungi bore holes in the host but keep it alive with an amphetamine-like substance. The flies then buzz around for days, sprinkling more spores on other victims.After a few days, the fly lies on its back, spasms for a few hours and then dies.

According to The Guardian, The unusual tactic of keeping the host alive while releasing spores is called active host transmission (AHT). It is an effective way of getting access to other healthy individuals.

Scientists think the fungi could be producing substances that “dope” their hosts (sometimes colloquially referred to as “zombies”), meaning they can stay fresh enough to live for days after infection – only collapsing once there is nothing left in their abdomens but the fungus.

The research was conducted by the University of Copenhagen and the Natural History Museum of Denmark published in the Journal of Invertebrate Pathology.

 

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