科学美国人(翻译):调查僵尸蚂蚁的“死亡之握” 2019.07.09

cathy0301 2019-07-19 378 阅读
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Investigating the Zombie Ant's "Death Grip"

调查僵尸蚂蚁的“死亡之握”

It's straight out of a horror movie: an ant, infected with a fungus, starts behaving strangely. It crawls as high as it can in the forest, grabs a leaf or twig in its mouth and bites. Hard. "It enters into this 'death-grip phenotype' is what we call it." Colleen Mangold, a molecular biologist at Penn State. "And then a couple hours after initiation of that behavior the ant will die." 

这就像直接从恐怖电影里出来的:一只感染了真菌的蚂蚁开始行为怪异。它在森林里尽可能地爬得高,用嘴叼起一片树叶或一根树枝,然后咬。困难的。“它进入了我们所说的‘死亡控制表型’。”宾夕法尼亚州立大学的分子生物学家科琳·曼戈尔德说。“在开始这种行为的几个小时后,蚂蚁就会死掉。”

The fungus, known as Ophiocordyceps, then eats through the corpse and sprouts a stalk from the ant's body to release more spores and infect more ants. It's a harsh way to go. "It's not ideal, definitely not ideal."

这种真菌被称为Ophiocordyceps,它会吃掉蚂蚁的尸体,然后从蚂蚁体内长出一根茎,释放出更多孢子,感染更多蚂蚁。这是一条艰难的道路。“这不理想,绝对不理想。”

Mangold and her colleagues wanted to get to the bottom of why the ants do this—specifically, how they get their death grip. So they dissected infected ants and zoomed in on their jaw muscles with electron microscopes. 

曼戈尔德和她的同事想弄清楚为什么蚂蚁会这样做,特别是它们是如何抓住死亡的。因此,他们解剖了受感染的蚂蚁,并用电子显微镜放大了它们的下颌肌肉。

They saw that the fungus had invaded and grown into jaw muscle cells, perhaps to suck up nutrients. And they spotted lots of mysterious tiny particles, which might be produced by the ant's immune system—or by the fungus, as a way of communicating with the muscle and forcing it to contract. 

他们发现真菌侵入并生长到颌骨肌肉细胞中,可能是为了吸收营养。他们发现了许多神秘的微小颗粒,它们可能是由蚂蚁的免疫系统或真菌产生的,作为一种与肌肉交流并迫使肌肉收缩的方式。

Whatever the mechanism, they found that the ant's jaw muscles had contracted so hard, they'd been irreparably damaged. The full details—and gory pictures—are in the Journal of Experimental Biology. [Colleen A. Mangold et al., Zombie ant death grip due to hypercontracted mandibular muscles]

不管机理如何,他们发现蚂蚁的下巴肌肉收缩得太厉害,已经受到了无法弥补的损伤。完整的细节和血淋淋的图片刊登在《实验生物学杂志》上。

Mangold hopes to get to the bottom of what those tiny particles do in follow-up work. And in the meantime, unless you're a carpenter ant, rest assured you have nothing to worry about. "It's highly species specific. I seriously doubt we'll be seeing any real-life human zombies anytime soon."

曼戈尔德希望在后续工作中弄清这些微小颗粒的作用。与此同时,除非你是一只木匠蚁,否则别担心。“这是高度物种特异性的。我非常怀疑我们在近期内是否会看到任何真实存在的人类僵尸。”

—Christopher Intagliata 

—来自Christopher Intagliata 


Investigating the Zombie Ant's "Death Grip"

调查僵尸蚂蚁的“死亡之握”

It's straight out of a horror movie: an ant, infected with a fungus, starts behaving strangely. It crawls as high as it can in the forest, grabs a leaf or twig in its mouth and bites. Hard. "It enters into this 'death-grip phenotype' is what we call it." Colleen Mangold, a molecular biologist at Penn State. "And then a couple hours after initiation of that behavior the ant will die." 

这就像直接从恐怖电影里出来的:一只感染了真菌的蚂蚁开始行为怪异。它在森林里尽可能地爬得高,用嘴叼起一片树叶或一根树枝,然后咬。困难的。“它进入了我们所说的‘死亡控制表型’。”宾夕法尼亚州立大学的分子生物学家科琳·曼戈尔德说。“在开始这种行为的几个小时后,蚂蚁就会死掉。”

The fungus, known as Ophiocordyceps, then eats through the corpse and sprouts a stalk from the ant's body to release more spores and infect more ants. It's a harsh way to go. "It's not ideal, definitely not ideal."

这种真菌被称为Ophiocordyceps,它会吃掉蚂蚁的尸体,然后从蚂蚁体内长出一根茎,释放出更多孢子,感染更多蚂蚁。这是一条艰难的道路。“这不理想,绝对不理想。”

Mangold and her colleagues wanted to get to the bottom of why the ants do this—specifically, how they get their death grip. So they dissected infected ants and zoomed in on their jaw muscles with electron microscopes. 

曼戈尔德和她的同事想弄清楚为什么蚂蚁会这样做,特别是它们是如何抓住死亡的。因此,他们解剖了受感染的蚂蚁,并用电子显微镜放大了它们的下颌肌肉。

They saw that the fungus had invaded and grown into jaw muscle cells, perhaps to suck up nutrients. And they spotted lots of mysterious tiny particles, which might be produced by the ant's immune system—or by the fungus, as a way of communicating with the muscle and forcing it to contract. 

他们发现真菌侵入并生长到颌骨肌肉细胞中,可能是为了吸收营养。他们发现了许多神秘的微小颗粒,它们可能是由蚂蚁的免疫系统或真菌产生的,作为一种与肌肉交流并迫使肌肉收缩的方式。

Whatever the mechanism, they found that the ant's jaw muscles had contracted so hard, they'd been irreparably damaged. The full details—and gory pictures—are in the Journal of Experimental Biology. [Colleen A. Mangold et al., Zombie ant death grip due to hypercontracted mandibular muscles]

不管机理如何,他们发现蚂蚁的下巴肌肉收缩得太厉害,已经受到了无法弥补的损伤。完整的细节和血淋淋的图片刊登在《实验生物学杂志》上。

Mangold hopes to get to the bottom of what those tiny particles do in follow-up work. And in the meantime, unless you're a carpenter ant, rest assured you have nothing to worry about. "It's highly species specific. I seriously doubt we'll be seeing any real-life human zombies anytime soon."

曼戈尔德希望在后续工作中弄清这些微小颗粒的作用。与此同时,除非你是一只木匠蚁,否则别担心。“这是高度物种特异性的。我非常怀疑我们在近期内是否会看到任何真实存在的人类僵尸。”

—Christopher Intagliata 

—来自Christopher Intagliata 


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