Zombie bugs? The fungus Purpureocillium cf. lilacinum may manipulate the behavior of its host bug Edessa rufomarginata

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Just before dying, Edessa rufomarginata (Hemiptera, Pentotomidae) individuals that are infected with the fungus Purpureocillium cf. lilacinum (Ascomycota: Ophiocordycipitaceae) move from the leaves onto the stems of their Solanum sp. host and firmly grasp the stems in ways seldom employed by uninfected bugs. These alterations in host behavior probably improve the chances that the subsequently produced fungal spores will be dispersed aerially. Purpureocillium cf. lilacinum is a member of the Ophiocordycipitaceae, a group in which other species also modify the behavior of their hosts. As in the case of newly distinguished relatives of Ophiocordyceps unilateralis associated with "zombie ants" the discovery of P. cf. lilacinum infecting bugs reveals that P. lilacinum may be more diverse than previously appreciated.

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