By: Seth Palmer
Dr. Hughes and his team observed that the pressure exerted on the ant colonies by the parasitic fungi (Ophiocordyceps spp., includingO. unilateralis s.l.) was much lower than the abundance of ant corpses would suggest.
They subsequently discovered the hyperparasitization, which results in a mere 6.5 percent viability of the spore-producing organs of the infected Ophiocordyceps.
Those Ophiocordyceps fruiting bodies which matured, however, appeared to be fertile and robust.
The researchers suggest that in order to survive despite being hyperparasitized, the Ophiocordyceps fungi have developed slowly maturing fruiting bodies and employ a reproductive strategy known as iteroparity — rarely considered in fungi but which, given evidence of correlative morphological characteristics in other hypocrealean fungi, may occur more widely than was previously thought.
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