Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Virus Gets Gypsy #Moth High

The caterpillar of the European gypsy moth climbs trees by night to feed on leaves but descends to the in relative safety of the ground during the day and to moult. However when infected by a baculovirus the caterpillar changes this behaviour, no longer returning to the ground but  remaining high in the tree where the virus releases enzymes that liquifies the caterpillar from the inside out and the infected liquid rains down to be widely distributed from the tree's canopy. Scientists at Pennsylvania State University believe that a  gene in the virus interferes with the hormone that triggers moulting in the caterpillars which usually takes place on the ground.


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