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Zombie ant death grip due to hypercontracted mandibular muscles.
J Exp Biol 2019; 222(Pt 14)JE

Abstract

There are numerous examples of parasites that manipulate the behavior of the hosts that they infect. One such host-pathogen relationship occurs between the 'zombie-ant fungus' Ophiocordyceps unilateralis sensu lato and its carpenter ant host. Infected ants climb to elevated locations and bite onto vegetation where they remain permanently affixed well after death. The mandibular muscles, but not the brain, of infected ants are extensively colonized by the fungus. We sought to investigate the mechanisms by which O. unilateralis s.l. may be able to influence mandibular muscle contraction despite widespread muscle damage. We found that infected muscles show evidence of hypercontraction. Despite the extensive colonization, both motor neurons and neuromuscular junctions appear to be maintained. 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 hypercontraction.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA cav154@psu.edu. Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics, Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA.Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics, Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA. Department of Entomology, College of Agricultural Sciences, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA.Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics, Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA. Department of Entomology, College of Agricultural Sciences, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA. Unit of Genetics and Genomics of Insect Vectors, Department of Parasites and Insect Vectors, Institute Pasteur, Paris 75015, France.Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences Microscopy and Cytometry Facility, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA.Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics, Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA. Department of Entomology, College of Agricultural Sciences, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA. Department of Biology, Eberly College of Science, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article

Language

eng

PubMed ID

31315924

Citation

Mangold, Colleen A., et al. "Zombie Ant Death Grip Due to Hypercontracted Mandibular Muscles." The Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 222, no. Pt 14, 2019.
Mangold CA, Ishler MJ, Loreto RG, et al. Zombie ant death grip due to hypercontracted mandibular muscles. J Exp Biol. 2019;222(Pt 14).
Mangold, C. A., Ishler, M. J., Loreto, R. G., Hazen, M. L., & Hughes, D. P. (2019). Zombie ant death grip due to hypercontracted mandibular muscles. The Journal of Experimental Biology, 222(Pt 14), doi:10.1242/jeb.200683.
Mangold CA, et al. Zombie Ant Death Grip Due to Hypercontracted Mandibular Muscles. J Exp Biol. 2019 Jul 17;222(Pt 14) PubMed PMID: 31315924.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Zombie ant death grip due to hypercontracted mandibular muscles. AU - Mangold,Colleen A, AU - Ishler,Melissa J, AU - Loreto,Raquel G, AU - Hazen,Missy L, AU - Hughes,David P, Y1 - 2019/07/17/ PY - 2019/01/30/received PY - 2019/06/03/accepted PY - 2019/7/19/entrez KW - Behavioral manipulation KW - Extracellular vesicles KW - Fungus KW - Host-pathogen interactions KW - Motor neuron KW - Ophiocordyceps JF - The Journal of experimental biology JO - J. Exp. Biol. VL - 222 IS - Pt 14 N2 - There are numerous examples of parasites that manipulate the behavior of the hosts that they infect. One such host-pathogen relationship occurs between the 'zombie-ant fungus' Ophiocordyceps unilateralis sensu lato and its carpenter ant host. Infected ants climb to elevated locations and bite onto vegetation where they remain permanently affixed well after death. The mandibular muscles, but not the brain, of infected ants are extensively colonized by the fungus. We sought to investigate the mechanisms by which O. unilateralis s.l. may be able to influence mandibular muscle contraction despite widespread muscle damage. We found that infected muscles show evidence of hypercontraction. Despite the extensive colonization, both motor neurons and neuromuscular junctions appear to be maintained. 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 hypercontraction. SN - 1477-9145 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/31315924/Zombie_ant_death_grip_due_to_hypercontracted_mandibular_muscles L2 - http://jeb.biologists.org/cgi/pmidlookup?view=long&pmid=31315924 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -