Fungi Turn Flies Into Zombies

News

Two newly found fungi species, Strongwellsea tigrinae and Strongwellsea acerosa, have been found to attack two fly species, Coenosia tigrina and Coenosia testacea, turning them into zombies! Once the fungi attack the flies, they undergo a horrific change— the fungi create one or more holes in the abdomens of the flies and produce clumps of orange spores, which then spread by dropping out of the holes. The infected zombie flies remain alive for days after this process, and end up spreading the spores far and wide. In a few days, the fungi and the fly collapse and die, but the spores that have burst out of the insects have thick walls and continue to infect more flies.

Researchers suspect that the fungi inject the flies with a substance that keeps them active even as their abdomens are devoured from the inside. They might also produce antimicrobial substances that keep other infections away from the flies and help them to stay alive for longer.

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