It’s bad enough we have to deal with human zombies. Now it looks like nature is going into high gear making zombies in the plant and animal kingdoms. In the past week we’ve seen stories about zombie plants, zombie bees and a zombie fish. Will this be one movie or three?
In the latest issue of the journal Trends in Plant Science, scientists from Jena University in Germany have been studying how a species of leafhopper insects turns plants into zombies that are alive only for the purpose of creating more zombie plants. The leafhoppers transmit a protein via a bacteria which looks just like a protein the plants use for creating blossoms. Unfortunately, this mutant protein stops the process instead and blocks the plant’s reproduction so that all it can do is make the bacteria available for other leafhoppers to spread. The scientists have not been able to find a way to stop this plant zombification. Yikes!
As if bees don’t have enough problems with colony collapse, now a parasitic fly that turns honeybees into zombies has spread to Pennsylvania and New York and is threatening the U.S. northeast coast. The Apocephalus borealis, first discovered in California in 2008, lays its eggs in the bees. When the eggs hatch, the larvae eat the insides of the bees, starting with muscles and nerves. The bees act like zombies – moving slowly, flying at night, bumping into things, attacking porch lights like moths – until they fall dead to the ground where the larvae feast until they can fly and start the process over again. While the zombie bees have only been found in the U.S., researchers feel it’s only a matter of time before they spread to other countries. Yikes!
Finally, a woman at a restaurant in China dug her chopsticks into a fish that was cooked, cut up and covered in sweet-and-sour sauce only to see it move and flap its fins. Some say the zombification of this fish is the result of the manner in which it was cooked (or undercooked) but the fact that the head moved while disconnected from the body is still pretty creepy. As expected, this culinary delight will soon be served in the U.S. Yikes!
Zombie plants, zombie bees or zombie fish – which one will make the best zombie movie?