The Biology Behind the Zombie Ant Fungi

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Ants are ubiquitous organisms, commonly found throughout tropical forests worldwide,and estimated to comprise 4x the biomass of all vertebrates on Earth combined. Such dominance, not surprisingly, exposes ants to a range of pathogens-especially fungal parasites. Among those are Ophiocordyceps, the intriguing "zombie-ant fungi." NYBG mycologist Joćo Araśjo, Ph.D., will share insights from his research-both in the lab and in the field-on the unusual adaptations of this fungus. These parasitic fungi, which inspired HBO's apocalyptic series The Last of Us, have evolved to take control of the ants they infect, and cause them to behave in ways they wouldn't otherwise.

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