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Ant Infected With Nematode Eggs Image 1
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Ant Infected With Nematode Eggs (Image 1)

July 2, 2010
Ant Infected With Nematode Eggs (Image 1) The tropical ant Cephalotes atratus takes on a berry-like appearance and walks with its red gaster (the portion of the abdomen behind the petiole) in an elevated position when infected by the parasitic nematode Myrmeconema neotropicum (or roundworm)--healthy ants are completely black. Researchers believe this change is intended to dupe birds into eating the gasters, which are full of nematode eggs. The eggs are transported to new ant colonies via the bird's feces, which are frequently collected by this species of ant. The research is published in the April 2008 issue of The American Naturalist. The discovery was made by Robert Dudley, a professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and colleagues. To learn more about this research, see UC press release "Ant Parasite Turns Host Into Ripe Berry, Biologists Discover.". (Date of Image: June 2007) [Image 1 of 3 related images. See Image 2.]