Going gentle into that pathogen-induced goodnight

J Invertebr Pathol. 2020 Jul;174:107398. doi: 10.1016/j.jip.2020.107398. Epub 2020 May 28.


A diverse set of pathogens have evolved extended phenotypes that manipulate the moribund behavior of their various insect hosts. By elevating host positioning at death, a phenomenon called "summit disease", these pathogens have been shown to have higher fitness. Though a few summit disease systems have been intensively characterized, in particular the Ophiocordyceps-ant system, summit diseases lack an overarching theory for the underlying mechanisms of this complex behavioral manipulation. In this article, we combine the gamut of summiting systems into a cohesive framework: we propose two types of summit disease (juvenile and adult), which both exploit natural insect behaviors during periods of quiescence. We place this framework in the context of available literature and propose investigations that follow from this comprehensive understanding of summit disease in insects.

Keywords: Extended phenotype; Molting; Ophiocordyceps; Quiescence; Sleep; Summit disease; Zombie ants.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions*
  • Hypocreales / physiology*
  • Insecta / growth & development
  • Insecta / microbiology*
  • Insecta / physiology
  • Larva / growth & development
  • Larva / microbiology
  • Larva / physiology
  • Sleep