Cockroaches, Alligators & Other Weird Sources of New Drugs

Cockroaches, Alligators & Other Weird Sources of New Drugs


Antibiotics are one of humankind’s most amazing
discoveries. Ever since that fateful day in 1928 when Scottish physician Alexander Fleming
noticed a funny mold growing in one of his petri dishes, antibiotics have been kicking
bacterial butt. That famous mold, of course, was producing
penicillin, the founding antibiotic superstar, which has since extended the average human
life by at least a decade. It fundamentally changed the face of medicine. Antibiotics,
or antimicrobials, are basically selective poisons designed to either kill or slow the
growth of bacteria to the point where your body’s own immune system can clean up. These
drugs target a specific part of bacteria or some important stage in their development
without damaging the body’s host cells. And they’re really great their job. Until they
aren’t. Lately, antibiotic technology has been having
a hard time keeping pace with bacterial evolution. We’ve talked here on SciShow about how lots
of your die-hard, go-to favorite antibiotics are starting to lose their mojo in the face
of sneaky and rapidly evolving bacteria. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
estimates that at least 2,000,000 Americans became infected with drug-resistant bacteria
in 2012, and 23,000 of them died as a result. These superbugs are deadly serious and could
quickly unleash a global health crisis if we don’t find a way to keep them in check.
The problem is we’ve already hit up many of the most obvious sources of antibiotics, like
fungi, which includes penicillin, and synthetic molecules.
Fortunately, we humans have big, delicious brains, and some of the best of them are hard
at work trying to invent all-new ways to kill dangerous bacteria or find other organisms
on the planet that are better at it than we are so we can steal their secrets. And while
they’re finding some promising leads, I gotta say, they’re looking in some pretty weird
places. [Intro] You know how everyone jokes that after some
big global disaster, only cockroaches will survive? Well, we recently found what may
partially explain their famous, and infuriating, tenacity. Research from the University of
Nottingham suggests that certain insects, like roaches and locusts, have brain tissues
that are infused with super-powered antibiotic juju. The researchers found nine different
antibiotic molecules tucked into the roaches’ nervous systems that may be protecting them
from otherwise lethal bacteria. They’re all a type of molecule known as peptides, short
chains of amino acids that make up proteins, kinda like proto-proteins. And these peptides
are specific to the bugs’ brains. They seem to be chemicals that roaches” brain cells
use to communicate with each other, y’know, whenever a cockroach is sitting around thinking
about stuff, which I guess can happen, and although we’re not sure how these peptides
actually work, laboratory tests have shown that they’re incredibly effective at eliminating
some of our least favorite bacteria, like the most dangerous strains of e.coli, which
cause gastrointestinal infections. And even MRSA, a super-resistant type of staphylococcus
bacterium that can cause unstoppable deadly infections in humans, particularly in hospitals.
In lab trials, these roach brain molecules killed over 90% of MRSA bacteria, without
harming any host cells. So I can guess what you’re thinking: shut
up and take my money! Well, hold on a sec, because we’re a bit away from having cockroach
brains on the pharmacy shelves. There’s still loads of technical hurdles to overcome, tests
to conduct, basic things we need to figure out, like how exactly these molecules work.
But roaches aren’t the only hardy animals out there. Alligators are some of the Earth’s
most rugged beasts. They essentially live in cesspool swamps teeming with bacteria and
fungus and other microbes, and more than that, they’re known brawlers. Put just a few territorial
800 pound toothy reptiles together in a dirty swamp, and you will no doubt come out with
some serious bite marks and bloody wounds, even missing limbs. But amazingly, what you
probably won’t find are any infections. This got some bayou scientists to thinkin’!
Dr. Mark Merchant, a biochemist at McNeese State University in Louisiana, helped conduct
a decade long study that investigated what makes alligators so unusually resistant to
bacterial and fungal infection. Turns out, it’s in their blood. An alligator’s
immune system is largely innate, meaning it can fight off harmful micro-organisms without
having any prior exposure to them. They just pop right out of their eggs ready to do battle.
We humans also have some innate immunity, provided by things like our skin and white
blood cells, but a big part of our immunities are adaptive, meaning we often develop a resistance
to specific diseases only after being exposed to them. Which of course is not ideal all
the time, but alligators get to skip this step. Researchers examining blood samples from American
alligators isolated their infection fighting white blood cells and then extracted the active
proteins working in those cells. And these two included a special class of peptides which
seemed to have a knack for weakening the membranes of bacteria, causing them to die. When pitted
against a wide range of bacteria including drug-resistant MRSA, these tough little peptides
proved to be effective killers. They also wiped out 6 of 8 strains of candida albicans,
a type of yeast infection that’s particularly troublesome for AIDS and transplant patients
with weakened immune systems. Such compounds may also be found in similar animals, like
crocodiles, Komodo dragons, and the skins of some frogs and toads. So far, lab trials
have shown that gator blood can kill at least 23 different strains of bacteria including
salmonella, e.coli, staph, and strep infections AND even a strain of HIV. For now, scientists
are working to find the exact chemical structures at work in four of these promising chemicals
and pinpoint which types are best at killing which microbes. One problem so far: high concentrations
of gator blood serum have already been found to be so powerful that they are toxic to human
cells. So other biologists are taking a different approach in the search for the next generation
of antibiotics. Rather than looking at other animals, they’re
exploring strange, new places, like cave soils and deep-sea sediments. Researchers have recently
discovered evidence of promising new fungi strains living way down in hundred million
year old nutrient-starved sediments in the Pacific Ocean. Everyone thought this was a
near-dead zone for life, too harsh and remote an environment for something like fungi to
survive in. Just a decade ago, the only living things known to inhabit such deep sediment
layers were single-celled bacteria and archaea, organisms known to flourish in extreme environments.
But while examining dredged up sediments from as deep as 127 meters into the sea floor,
scientists found fungi of at least eight different types, four of which they successfully cultured
in the lab. Some of the fungi even belonged to the genus Penicillium, which we have to
thank for the development of penicillin. Now, we’re not exactly sure how old these fungi
are, but they are definitely quite old and maybe, more importantly, they appear to have
been living in isolation for eons. If that’s the case, they may have evolved specific and
unusual defenses against bacteria, which, just like their penicillin kin in that famous
petri dish, could end up being a new and powerful source of antibiotics.
And there’s one more strategy that scientists are using, one that works in espionage as
well as in medicine. And that is seeing what the enemy is up to.
While exploring life in strange new places around the world, some biologists are looking
for bacteria that have never been exposed to our drugs, but still appear to be naturally
resistant to them. Wherever we find the most naturally resistant
bacteria, we might also find natural antibiotics that we never knew about.
And here, one of the most promising leads is again in one of the hardest-to-reach places:
New Mexico’s Lechuguilla cave, a place that was isolated from all human contact until
it was discovered in the 1980’s. One of the many fascinating things that scientists
have discovered here is that the cave bacteria seem to be resistant to everything.
Even though they’ve never been exposed to us or our drugs, all of the bacteria have
proven to be resistant to at least one major antibiotic, and many tend to fend off more
than a dozen of the most powerful antimicrobials we have. This suggests to scientists that
the bacteria have evolved to be this way because they live in an environment that’s rich in
naturally occurring antibiotics, ones that the germs we live with up here on the surface
have never encountered. Now we just have to find out what exactly
those compounds are. So look, I’m not going to lie to you: we have
a lot of work to do. While we might discover a new super-drug lurking
in a cave or under the sea or in a cockroach’s head, there’s a big difference between finding
a substance that cleans house in a petri dish and actually putting a new antibiotic in the
vein of a human patient. So the bummer is, as promising as some of
these bold new discoveries may be, none of them has yet yielded an actual marketable
drug. Still, there’s a long list of successful antibiotics
that we’ve managed to derive from strange sources, starting with Dr. Fleming’s rogue
fungus. So if we keep exploring strange new places
and studying how other animals deal with the problems we’re facing, we just might find
the next penicillin before the superbugs get the best of us. Thanks for watching this SciShow Infusion,
especially to our Subbable subscribers. To learn how you can support us in exploring
the world, just go to Subbable.com. And as always, if you want to keep getting smarter
with us, you can go to YouTube.com/SciShow and subscribe.

Cockroaches, Alligators & Other Weird Sources of New Drugs


Antibiotics are one of humankind’s most amazing
discoveries. Ever since that fateful day in 1928 when Scottish physician Alexander Fleming
noticed a funny mold growing in one of his petri dishes, antibiotics have been kicking
bacterial butt. That famous mold, of course, was producing
penicillin, the founding antibiotic superstar, which has since extended the average human
life by at least a decade. It fundamentally changed the face of medicine. Antibiotics,
or antimicrobials, are basically selective poisons designed to either kill or slow the
growth of bacteria to the point where your body’s own immune system can clean up. These
drugs target a specific part of bacteria or some important stage in their development
without damaging the body’s host cells. And they’re really great their job. Until they
aren’t. Lately, antibiotic technology has been having
a hard time keeping pace with bacterial evolution. We’ve talked here on SciShow about how lots
of your die-hard, go-to favorite antibiotics are starting to lose their mojo in the face
of sneaky and rapidly evolving bacteria. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
estimates that at least 2,000,000 Americans became infected with drug-resistant bacteria
in 2012, and 23,000 of them died as a result. These superbugs are deadly serious and could
quickly unleash a global health crisis if we don’t find a way to keep them in check.
The problem is we’ve already hit up many of the most obvious sources of antibiotics, like
fungi, which includes penicillin, and synthetic molecules.
Fortunately, we humans have big, delicious brains, and some of the best of them are hard
at work trying to invent all-new ways to kill dangerous bacteria or find other organisms
on the planet that are better at it than we are so we can steal their secrets. And while
they’re finding some promising leads, I gotta say, they’re looking in some pretty weird
places. [Intro] You know how everyone jokes that after some
big global disaster, only cockroaches will survive? Well, we recently found what may
partially explain their famous, and infuriating, tenacity. Research from the University of
Nottingham suggests that certain insects, like roaches and locusts, have brain tissues
that are infused with super-powered antibiotic juju. The researchers found nine different
antibiotic molecules tucked into the roaches’ nervous systems that may be protecting them
from otherwise lethal bacteria. They’re all a type of molecule known as peptides, short
chains of amino acids that make up proteins, kinda like proto-proteins. And these peptides
are specific to the bugs’ brains. They seem to be chemicals that roaches” brain cells
use to communicate with each other, y’know, whenever a cockroach is sitting around thinking
about stuff, which I guess can happen, and although we’re not sure how these peptides
actually work, laboratory tests have shown that they’re incredibly effective at eliminating
some of our least favorite bacteria, like the most dangerous strains of e.coli, which
cause gastrointestinal infections. And even MRSA, a super-resistant type of staphylococcus
bacterium that can cause unstoppable deadly infections in humans, particularly in hospitals.
In lab trials, these roach brain molecules killed over 90% of MRSA bacteria, without
harming any host cells. So I can guess what you’re thinking: shut
up and take my money! Well, hold on a sec, because we’re a bit away from having cockroach
brains on the pharmacy shelves. There’s still loads of technical hurdles to overcome, tests
to conduct, basic things we need to figure out, like how exactly these molecules work.
But roaches aren’t the only hardy animals out there. Alligators are some of the Earth’s
most rugged beasts. They essentially live in cesspool swamps teeming with bacteria and
fungus and other microbes, and more than that, they’re known brawlers. Put just a few territorial
800 pound toothy reptiles together in a dirty swamp, and you will no doubt come out with
some serious bite marks and bloody wounds, even missing limbs. But amazingly, what you
probably won’t find are any infections. This got some bayou scientists to thinkin’!
Dr. Mark Merchant, a biochemist at McNeese State University in Louisiana, helped conduct
a decade long study that investigated what makes alligators so unusually resistant to
bacterial and fungal infection. Turns out, it’s in their blood. An alligator’s
immune system is largely innate, meaning it can fight off harmful micro-organisms without
having any prior exposure to them. They just pop right out of their eggs ready to do battle.
We humans also have some innate immunity, provided by things like our skin and white
blood cells, but a big part of our immunities are adaptive, meaning we often develop a resistance
to specific diseases only after being exposed to them. Which of course is not ideal all
the time, but alligators get to skip this step. Researchers examining blood samples from American
alligators isolated their infection fighting white blood cells and then extracted the active
proteins working in those cells. And these two included a special class of peptides which
seemed to have a knack for weakening the membranes of bacteria, causing them to die. When pitted
against a wide range of bacteria including drug-resistant MRSA, these tough little peptides
proved to be effective killers. They also wiped out 6 of 8 strains of candida albicans,
a type of yeast infection that’s particularly troublesome for AIDS and transplant patients
with weakened immune systems. Such compounds may also be found in similar animals, like
crocodiles, Komodo dragons, and the skins of some frogs and toads. So far, lab trials
have shown that gator blood can kill at least 23 different strains of bacteria including
salmonella, e.coli, staph, and strep infections AND even a strain of HIV. For now, scientists
are working to find the exact chemical structures at work in four of these promising chemicals
and pinpoint which types are best at killing which microbes. One problem so far: high concentrations
of gator blood serum have already been found to be so powerful that they are toxic to human
cells. So other biologists are taking a different approach in the search for the next generation
of antibiotics. Rather than looking at other animals, they’re
exploring strange, new places, like cave soils and deep-sea sediments. Researchers have recently
discovered evidence of promising new fungi strains living way down in hundred million
year old nutrient-starved sediments in the Pacific Ocean. Everyone thought this was a
near-dead zone for life, too harsh and remote an environment for something like fungi to
survive in. Just a decade ago, the only living things known to inhabit such deep sediment
layers were single-celled bacteria and archaea, organisms known to flourish in extreme environments.
But while examining dredged up sediments from as deep as 127 meters into the sea floor,
scientists found fungi of at least eight different types, four of which they successfully cultured
in the lab. Some of the fungi even belonged to the genus Penicillium, which we have to
thank for the development of penicillin. Now, we’re not exactly sure how old these fungi
are, but they are definitely quite old and maybe, more importantly, they appear to have
been living in isolation for eons. If that’s the case, they may have evolved specific and
unusual defenses against bacteria, which, just like their penicillin kin in that famous
petri dish, could end up being a new and powerful source of antibiotics.
And there’s one more strategy that scientists are using, one that works in espionage as
well as in medicine. And that is seeing what the enemy is up to.
While exploring life in strange new places around the world, some biologists are looking
for bacteria that have never been exposed to our drugs, but still appear to be naturally
resistant to them. Wherever we find the most naturally resistant
bacteria, we might also find natural antibiotics that we never knew about.
And here, one of the most promising leads is again in one of the hardest-to-reach places:
New Mexico’s Lechuguilla cave, a place that was isolated from all human contact until
it was discovered in the 1980’s. One of the many fascinating things that scientists
have discovered here is that the cave bacteria seem to be resistant to everything.
Even though they’ve never been exposed to us or our drugs, all of the bacteria have
proven to be resistant to at least one major antibiotic, and many tend to fend off more
than a dozen of the most powerful antimicrobials we have. This suggests to scientists that
the bacteria have evolved to be this way because they live in an environment that’s rich in
naturally occurring antibiotics, ones that the germs we live with up here on the surface
have never encountered. Now we just have to find out what exactly
those compounds are. So look, I’m not going to lie to you: we have
a lot of work to do. While we might discover a new super-drug lurking
in a cave or under the sea or in a cockroach’s head, there’s a big difference between finding
a substance that cleans house in a petri dish and actually putting a new antibiotic in the
vein of a human patient. So the bummer is, as promising as some of
these bold new discoveries may be, none of them has yet yielded an actual marketable
drug. Still, there’s a long list of successful antibiotics
that we’ve managed to derive from strange sources, starting with Dr. Fleming’s rogue
fungus. So if we keep exploring strange new places
and studying how other animals deal with the problems we’re facing, we just might find
the next penicillin before the superbugs get the best of us. Thanks for watching this SciShow Infusion,
especially to our Subbable subscribers. To learn how you can support us in exploring
the world, just go to Subbable.com. And as always, if you want to keep getting smarter
with us, you can go to YouTube.com/SciShow and subscribe.

Cockroaches, Alligators & Other Weird Sources of New Drugs


Antibiotics are one of humankind’s most amazing
discoveries. Ever since that fateful day in 1928 when Scottish physician Alexander Fleming
noticed a funny mold growing in one of his petri dishes, antibiotics have been kicking
bacterial butt. That famous mold, of course, was producing
penicillin, the founding antibiotic superstar, which has since extended the average human
life by at least a decade. It fundamentally changed the face of medicine. Antibiotics,
or antimicrobials, are basically selective poisons designed to either kill or slow the
growth of bacteria to the point where your body’s own immune system can clean up. These
drugs target a specific part of bacteria or some important stage in their development
without damaging the body’s host cells. And they’re really great their job. Until they
aren’t. Lately, antibiotic technology has been having
a hard time keeping pace with bacterial evolution. We’ve talked here on SciShow about how lots
of your die-hard, go-to favorite antibiotics are starting to lose their mojo in the face
of sneaky and rapidly evolving bacteria. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
estimates that at least 2,000,000 Americans became infected with drug-resistant bacteria
in 2012, and 23,000 of them died as a result. These superbugs are deadly serious and could
quickly unleash a global health crisis if we don’t find a way to keep them in check.
The problem is we’ve already hit up many of the most obvious sources of antibiotics, like
fungi, which includes penicillin, and synthetic molecules.
Fortunately, we humans have big, delicious brains, and some of the best of them are hard
at work trying to invent all-new ways to kill dangerous bacteria or find other organisms
on the planet that are better at it than we are so we can steal their secrets. And while
they’re finding some promising leads, I gotta say, they’re looking in some pretty weird
places. [Intro] You know how everyone jokes that after some
big global disaster, only cockroaches will survive? Well, we recently found what may
partially explain their famous, and infuriating, tenacity. Research from the University of
Nottingham suggests that certain insects, like roaches and locusts, have brain tissues
that are infused with super-powered antibiotic juju. The researchers found nine different
antibiotic molecules tucked into the roaches’ nervous systems that may be protecting them
from otherwise lethal bacteria. They’re all a type of molecule known as peptides, short
chains of amino acids that make up proteins, kinda like proto-proteins. And these peptides
are specific to the bugs’ brains. They seem to be chemicals that roaches” brain cells
use to communicate with each other, y’know, whenever a cockroach is sitting around thinking
about stuff, which I guess can happen, and although we’re not sure how these peptides
actually work, laboratory tests have shown that they’re incredibly effective at eliminating
some of our least favorite bacteria, like the most dangerous strains of e.coli, which
cause gastrointestinal infections. And even MRSA, a super-resistant type of staphylococcus
bacterium that can cause unstoppable deadly infections in humans, particularly in hospitals.
In lab trials, these roach brain molecules killed over 90% of MRSA bacteria, without
harming any host cells. So I can guess what you’re thinking: shut
up and take my money! Well, hold on a sec, because we’re a bit away from having cockroach
brains on the pharmacy shelves. There’s still loads of technical hurdles to overcome, tests
to conduct, basic things we need to figure out, like how exactly these molecules work.
But roaches aren’t the only hardy animals out there. Alligators are some of the Earth’s
most rugged beasts. They essentially live in cesspool swamps teeming with bacteria and
fungus and other microbes, and more than that, they’re known brawlers. Put just a few territorial
800 pound toothy reptiles together in a dirty swamp, and you will no doubt come out with
some serious bite marks and bloody wounds, even missing limbs. But amazingly, what you
probably won’t find are any infections. This got some bayou scientists to thinkin’!
Dr. Mark Merchant, a biochemist at McNeese State University in Louisiana, helped conduct
a decade long study that investigated what makes alligators so unusually resistant to
bacterial and fungal infection. Turns out, it’s in their blood. An alligator’s
immune system is largely innate, meaning it can fight off harmful micro-organisms without
having any prior exposure to them. They just pop right out of their eggs ready to do battle.
We humans also have some innate immunity, provided by things like our skin and white
blood cells, but a big part of our immunities are adaptive, meaning we often develop a resistance
to specific diseases only after being exposed to them. Which of course is not ideal all
the time, but alligators get to skip this step. Researchers examining blood samples from American
alligators isolated their infection fighting white blood cells and then extracted the active
proteins working in those cells. And these two included a special class of peptides which
seemed to have a knack for weakening the membranes of bacteria, causing them to die. When pitted
against a wide range of bacteria including drug-resistant MRSA, these tough little peptides
proved to be effective killers. They also wiped out 6 of 8 strains of candida albicans,
a type of yeast infection that’s particularly troublesome for AIDS and transplant patients
with weakened immune systems. Such compounds may also be found in similar animals, like
crocodiles, Komodo dragons, and the skins of some frogs and toads. So far, lab trials
have shown that gator blood can kill at least 23 different strains of bacteria including
salmonella, e.coli, staph, and strep infections AND even a strain of HIV. For now, scientists
are working to find the exact chemical structures at work in four of these promising chemicals
and pinpoint which types are best at killing which microbes. One problem so far: high concentrations
of gator blood serum have already been found to be so powerful that they are toxic to human
cells. So other biologists are taking a different approach in the search for the next generation
of antibiotics. Rather than looking at other animals, they’re
exploring strange, new places, like cave soils and deep-sea sediments. Researchers have recently
discovered evidence of promising new fungi strains living way down in hundred million
year old nutrient-starved sediments in the Pacific Ocean. Everyone thought this was a
near-dead zone for life, too harsh and remote an environment for something like fungi to
survive in. Just a decade ago, the only living things known to inhabit such deep sediment
layers were single-celled bacteria and archaea, organisms known to flourish in extreme environments.
But while examining dredged up sediments from as deep as 127 meters into the sea floor,
scientists found fungi of at least eight different types, four of which they successfully cultured
in the lab. Some of the fungi even belonged to the genus Penicillium, which we have to
thank for the development of penicillin. Now, we’re not exactly sure how old these fungi
are, but they are definitely quite old and maybe, more importantly, they appear to have
been living in isolation for eons. If that’s the case, they may have evolved specific and
unusual defenses against bacteria, which, just like their penicillin kin in that famous
petri dish, could end up being a new and powerful source of antibiotics.
And there’s one more strategy that scientists are using, one that works in espionage as
well as in medicine. And that is seeing what the enemy is up to.
While exploring life in strange new places around the world, some biologists are looking
for bacteria that have never been exposed to our drugs, but still appear to be naturally
resistant to them. Wherever we find the most naturally resistant
bacteria, we might also find natural antibiotics that we never knew about.
And here, one of the most promising leads is again in one of the hardest-to-reach places:
New Mexico’s Lechuguilla cave, a place that was isolated from all human contact until
it was discovered in the 1980’s. One of the many fascinating things that scientists
have discovered here is that the cave bacteria seem to be resistant to everything.
Even though they’ve never been exposed to us or our drugs, all of the bacteria have
proven to be resistant to at least one major antibiotic, and many tend to fend off more
than a dozen of the most powerful antimicrobials we have. This suggests to scientists that
the bacteria have evolved to be this way because they live in an environment that’s rich in
naturally occurring antibiotics, ones that the germs we live with up here on the surface
have never encountered. Now we just have to find out what exactly
those compounds are. So look, I’m not going to lie to you: we have
a lot of work to do. While we might discover a new super-drug lurking
in a cave or under the sea or in a cockroach’s head, there’s a big difference between finding
a substance that cleans house in a petri dish and actually putting a new antibiotic in the
vein of a human patient. So the bummer is, as promising as some of
these bold new discoveries may be, none of them has yet yielded an actual marketable
drug. Still, there’s a long list of successful antibiotics
that we’ve managed to derive from strange sources, starting with Dr. Fleming’s rogue
fungus. So if we keep exploring strange new places
and studying how other animals deal with the problems we’re facing, we just might find
the next penicillin before the superbugs get the best of us. Thanks for watching this SciShow Infusion,
especially to our Subbable subscribers. To learn how you can support us in exploring
the world, just go to Subbable.com. And as always, if you want to keep getting smarter
with us, you can go to YouTube.com/SciShow and subscribe.

6 Weird Mushrooms (And Other Fungi)

6 Weird Mushrooms (And Other Fungi)


[♪ INTRO] There’s more to mushrooms than the cute
button varieties you find at your local grocery store. The word “fungus” describes a whole kingdom
of organisms that are neither plant nor animal. It includes chanterelles and shiitakes, but
also molds and yeasts. Mushrooms are the part of the fungus that
spreads its spores in order to reproduce. And there are some really strange examples
of fungi and their fruiting bodies out there. They’re not just interesting looking, either. Some have the power to trick animals into
caring for them, or even clean up radiation. So here are six weird mushrooms and other
fungi, and what sets them apart from regular garden
fare. The first fungus on our list has a pretty
clever survival technique. The genus Fibularhizoctonia, also known as
the cuckoo fungus, hides itself in piles of termite eggs by mimicking
their size and color. Its little round balls aren’t technically
mushrooms. They’re actually the fungus’s sclerotia
form. That’s a resting state that will eventually
sprout a new colony when conditions are right. By making itself look like termite eggs, the
fungus ensures it’s safe until it’s time to sprout. See, termites will pile all their eggs together
in one place and groom and lick them to protect them from dryness and infection. By hiding in the heap, the fungal termite
balls get the same protection. But it’s not just a matter of looking
like a termite egg. The cuckoo fungus smells like them too. To blend in, the fungi make an enzyme called
beta-glucosidase. This same enzyme is made by termite eggs to
help adults recognize them. And in an experiment from 2000, termites didn’t care for glass beads resembling
termite eggs unless they were coated in egg-recognition
chemicals. Researchers have found that multiple species
of fungus can all hide away in the same termite mound; all it takes is looking and smelling similar
enough. There’s just one catch to all this protection: the fungal balls can’t sprout with worker
termites around. Researchers think that maybe the termite’s
saliva keeps them from growing somehow. When the termites run out of food and relocate
to a new colony, they carry their own eggs,and the fungus,
with them. And then the fungus can sprout. It’s a handy way for the fungus to hitch
a ride and set up camp in a brand new location before
its competitors get there. This next fungus on the list sounds and looks
positively frightening. But it turns out, all its weirdness is just
a mushroom living its life. The bleeding tooth fungus gets its name in
part from the teeth-shaped structures on its underside. In fact, all members of the hydnoid family
of fungi have these structures, not just the bleeding tooth. Most mushrooms use gills or pores to release
their spores. You can easily spot the gills if you flip
over a portobello. But hydnoids use teeth instead.
And the bleeding part? That dark red liquid oozing from the mushroom’s
top is actually because of the fungus’s internal
transportation system. See, fungi transport nutrients and water up from
the soil through root-like structures called hyphae. Under the right conditions, pressure can build
up in the hyphae and push fluid up and out of the pores on
the mushroom’s surface. Although there haven’t been any studies
to figure out exactly why the fluid is red, one fungi expert we asked thinks the mushroom
might add red pigments to attract insects that help spread its spores; the same insects that are also attracted to
red flowers. Not creepy and bleeding at all! One of the other cool things about these fungi is how they get their nutrients in the first
place. Bleeding tooth fungi are mycorrhizal, meaning they form symbiotic relationships
with trees like pine or spruce. The fungi get carbohydrates from the trees
and, in return, they give the tree nitrogen and phosphorus. And you could say it’s quite an intimate
relationship. The fungus’s hyphae grow as a layer on the
outside of the tree’s root tips, actually growing in between the tree’s cells, so they can easily hand nutrients back and
forth with one another. I’m not sure I’d be comfortable with having
a gruesome-looking fungus latched on to me. But it seems to work out just fine for the
trees! When you think of a wild mushroom, chances
are you picture something like the Fly Agaric. And I know we’re supposed to be talking
about weird mushrooms, but stick with me. This iconic mushroom is depicted in everything
from Germanic Christmas decorations to Super Mario. But its recognizability has as much to do
with its chemistry as it does aesthetics. See, the Fly Agaric’s name may not actually
refer to insects. Instead, it may be related to an older usage
of the word ‘fly’, which could refer to madness or possession. That’s because the world’s prettiest, most stereotypical
mushroom has hallucinogenic properties. But they’re also kind of toxic, so just
in case we have to say it, don’t. There are accounts dating back to at least
the 18th century, and perhaps much earlier, of European and Asian peoples using the mushrooms
in religious rituals. If ingested, the mushrooms cause confusion,
dizziness, space distortion, unawareness of time and hallucinations, followed
by drowsiness and fatigue. The two main compounds responsible are muscimol
and ibotenic acid. They have a chemical structure that’s really
similar to the neurotransmitter GABA. And they act in kind of the same way to make neurons in the spinal cord and brain
less likely to fire. Which has kind of a calming effect. But they also explain the mushroom’s psychedelic
effects. Muscimol and ibotenic acid trigger the release
of additional neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, which give those happy
feelings. At least that’s what the mice studies have
shown. The funny thing is, these mushrooms are actually
trying not to be eaten. Their distinctive red and white color is a
warning to animals that, hey, I’m toxic! Seems one creature’s warning system is another’s
video game powerup. This next group of fungi have earned the nickname
‘Hulk bugs’. That’s because they seem to have the ability
to absorb radiation. These superhero fungi have been found in areas
with some seriously high levels of radiation, like inside the damaged nuclear reactor at
Chernobyl and even hanging out on the outsides of spacecraft. Some fungi on the outskirts of Chernobyl even
grow towards the source of radiation. Hence their name, radiotropic fungi; tropism being a term for when an organism
turns towards a particular stimulus. But radiation is nasty stuff for most living
things, given its ability to shred DNA. So how can these fungi tolerate it? Some fungi, like black yeast, can protect
themselves by using the radiation to activate particular genes related to DNA
repair and defense. These fungi seem to have a sensor for detecting
UV light, which can also cause DNA damage. And that sensor may be picking up radiation
and turning on DNA repair. And they don’t just absorb it and cope. The radiation actually helps some fungi grow
stronger. For example, when black yeast was exposed
to low doses of radiation over 24 hours in the lab, it grew 30 percent
more cells, and those cells were larger than the ones
that hadn’t been exposed to radiation. And the single-celled fungus Cryptococcus
neoformans grew faster when exposed to high levels of gamma radiation
in the lab. Scientists think this might have to do with
melanin in the fungi’s cell walls. Yes, the same pigment that gives our skin
its color. They think melanin might be acting in a similar
way to other biological pigments like chlorophyll to turn radiation into usable
energy. When researchers exposed fungi containing
melanin to gamma rays, they found an increase in cellular energy
production. But not all fungi found in radioactive areas
have melanin, so there may be something else going on that
we don’t understand yet. And it would be a good thing to investigate, since some radiotropic fungi may have the
ability to decompose and decontaminate radioactive material, meaning they could be used for environmental
cleanups. Two fungi are doing just that with the debris
at Chernobyl. But scientists don’t yet whether the fungi
retain the radioactive particles or spit them back out into the environment
somehow, which is to say, more research is needed to
see if they can truly decontaminate radiation. Still, maybe we should rename them Captain
Planet bugs? Speaking of names, you can learn a lot about
the fungi in this next group from both their scientific and common names. Their family name, Phallaceae, alludes to
these fungus’s distinctive shape. But that’s not the whole story. These mushrooms actually come in a wide variety
of forms, from geometric, to alien looking, to something
quite beautiful. Scientists aren’t exactly sure why these
fungi take so many different shapes, but some have speculated that it might increase
the mushrooms’ surface area to help spread their spores. That’s where this family’s other name
comes in: Stinkhorn fungi. They secrete a foul-smelling slime that reeks
of rotting flesh thanks to a chemical called dimethyl trisulfide. The same chemical is given off by necrotic
wounds. This attracts flies that gobble up the slime,
as well as a bunch of spores. The flies then spread those spores to another
location when they poop, helping the mushrooms reproduce. And it’s not just flies that are interested
in this mushroom as a snack. Despite its horrid odor, pickled stinkhorn
eggs are a delicacy in China and Europe. One species, the bridal veil stinkhorn, is
dried and eaten on special occasions in China. Once dried they apparently smell more earthy,
musty or almondy than putrid, and when cooked have a nice umami flavor. So, don’t judge a mushroom by its smell
I guess? Lion’s Mane sounds like something you might
add to a potion. And it kind of is. This fluffy, white mushroom is edible; it’s said to have a fleshy texture and seafood-like
taste. It’s been used in Chinese medicine for centuries
as an antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-aging supplement. Claims abound in support of the beneficial
properties of the various chemicals found within lion’s mane mushrooms. And there seems to be some evidence to support
these claims. One group of compounds, the hericerins, slows
the growth of cancer cells. Another, belonging to a class of chemicals
called polysaccharides, stimulates immune responses by activating
the body’s defensive cells. And in a double blind study from 2008, elderly people who took tablets containing
the dry mushroom powder scored better on a test of cognitive function after 16 weeks
than those who received a placebo. But before you start stockpiling Lion’s
Mane, you should know there are a few snags. For one, a lot of these studies were done
in vitro, that is, with a culture dish of cells rather
than an actual person. And others were done on rodents. There’s a big difference between rodents
and people, and between cells and full-blown human bodies, so the effects probably aren’t as staggering
as some people might have you believe. Still, if there’s a silver lining, it’s
that this mushroom still tastes pretty good. These magnificent mushrooms and fancy fungi
all stand out for different reasons, but it goes to show that there’s a lot more
going on than what’s in your backyard. Unless there’s stinkhorns in your backyard. Those things smell terrible. I’m so sorry. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow. If this list piqued your interest, there’s a whole episode of our spin-off podcast
SciShow Tangents about the fungus among us. And that’s just one of the lightly competitive,
science poem-filled topics on offer. It’s brought to you by the same super smart
people who make SciShow, as well as Complexly and WNYC Studios. Check it out wherever you find podcasts. [♪ OUTRO]

This Killer Fungus Turns Flies into Zombies | Deep Look


We like to think we’re in control … that
our minds are our own. But that’s not true for this fruit fly. Its brain has been hijacked by another organism
and it’s not going to end well. It all starts when the fly is innocently walking
around, sipping on overripe fruit. It picks up an invisible fungus spore, which
bores under its skin. For a few days, everything seems normal. But inside, the fungus is growing, feeding
on the fly’s fat … and infiltrating its mind. At dusk on the fourth or fifth day, the fly
gets a little erratic, wandering around. It climbs to a high place. Scientists call this behavior “summiting.” Then it starts twitching. The fungus is in control. The fly sticks out its mouthpart and spits
out a tiny drop of sticky liquid. That glues the fly down, sealing its fate. A few minutes later, its wings shoot up. And it dies. Now that the fungus has forced the fly into
this death pose … wings out of the way … nothing can stop it. It emerges. Tiny spore launchers burst out of the fly’s
skin. Hundreds of spores shoot out at high speed,
catching a breeze if the fly climbed high enough. They’re the next generation of killer fungus. It continues for hours, spores flying out. These flies are in the wrong place at the
wrong time. And if spores land on a wing, which they can’t
bore into, they shoot out a secondary spore to increase their chances of spreading. So how does a fungus take control of a brain? At Harvard, Carolyn Elya is trying to understand
that. She thinks the fungus secretes chemicals to
manipulate the fly’s neurons, maybe stimulating the ones that make flies climb. But don’t worry: The fungus can’t hurt
humans. Scientists have tried to harness its power
for our benefit, to kill flies in our kitchens and farms. They haven’t had any luck though. The deadly spores are actually pretty fragile
and short-lived. It turns out, this lethal puppet master does
only what it needs to for its *own* survival. Hi, it’s Lauren again. If you love Deep Look, why not help us grow
on Patreon? We’re raising funds to go on a filming expedition
to Oaxaca, Mexico. And for a limited time, we’re sweetening the
deal with a special gift. Link is in the description. And if you’re craving more spooky videos,
here’s a playlist of our scariest episodes. Don’t watch ‘em after midnight. See you soon.

Ants vs. Alien Mold

Ants vs. Alien Mold


Previously in the Tomb Raider Saga… Now as the ants were eating, I noticed something
strange. AC Family, look. Alien mold. This is very bad news. Please subscribe to my channel, and hit the
bell icon. Welcome to the AC Family. Tired of nature channels now sowing nature
shows? Just watch this channel. Enjoy. Last week, we watched in excitement as our
Golden Empire, our yellow crazy ant colony received their new home, thanks to your votes,
into our new Youtube Gold Play Button. It was a magical and joyous event for the
Golden Empire. But acquiring a new home has not been so joyous
for all our ants, for just nearby, our newly caught Pharaoh ant colony, you called the
Tomb Raiders, had been undergoing a more challenging transition in their new massive, room-sized
home. By the way, AC Family, if you’re excited about
this episode and enjoy our ant videos, please hit that LIKE button and let me know! So for those of you who might be new to the
channel, let’s recap real quick and go back to two weeks ago. This new Tomb Raider setup composed of various
terrariums all connected by tubing was designed to house our newly captured colony of wild
pharaoh ants, whose menacing invasion of another one of our ant terrariums we successfully
intercepted by trapping them and turning the traps into these neat terrariums. After this video, feel free to watch the whole
story in this series playlist. The new Tomb Raiders’ 35 foot long territories,
which span the entire ant room was pretty impressive and quite promising, until we discovered
these creepy growths that began making an nightmarish appearance, all over the sticks
and mosses. It was some alien mold, and it didn’t look
good. So, let’s get to it! Trying my best not panic, we had to look at
this critically. Though the mold looked quite scary, the important
question was: Was this mold dangerous to the colony? And AC Family, to answer that we needed to
look at the facts, and consider two possibilities. The first posibility was that this was a non-lethal
mold. Most ants, being natural residents of soil,
are generally adapted to deal with most molds and fungi which naturally occur in a terrestrial
environment. In fact, their lifestyle is built to work
with molds and keep mold growth regulated. You see, ants are super clean and sterile
animals. They don’t just leave their trash laying around
to fester. Like humans, they establish a designated garbage
site to which they carry their trash, and from there they leave it to natural critters
like springtails and molds to further breakdown the garbage safely. Some ants have underground chambers which
they make their garbage sites and then when these chambers are full they simply block
off the entrances to these garbage rooms with soil and leave it to the sprintails and molds
to break them down. Ants like humans, also have a designated bathroom
area for the same reason, which again creates an isolated site for molds and other life
forms to feed and grow. They don’t just deficate anywhere in the nest. Even the young are built to to be clean. They poop just once in their entire larval
stage and it is contained in a meconium which appears a little black dot on cocoons or white
dot on naked pupae. That way, no poop lays around the nursery
chambers for molds to get out of control inside the nest. Also, as we saw in last week’s video, ants
transfer their food mouth to mouth through a process called trophallaxis, and the food
is carried inside their bodies. This way, food is kept sterile and isn’t laying
around the nest for endangering molds to grow. Finally, worker ants are constantly licking
and cleaning the young and themselves to make sure mold doesn’t grow on them nor the young. So, in light of all of this, it was assuring
to me that perhaps this alien mold was not a threat to our Tomb Raiders. The mold after all seemed to be growing on
our natural moss and sticks, so perhaps it was more of a mold specialized on feeding
on decaying organic matter and not on living ants. Now let’s consider our second possibility:
that this alien mold is a danger to our Tomb Raiders. Two things were of concern to me regarding
this. First, even if this mold was not attacking
our ants directly, if left unchecked, and allowed to completely take over the Tomb Raider’s
setup, it was possible that the ants would eventually be unable to clean all this mold’s
spores from the skin of their brood, which would lead to all eggs, larvae, and pupae
falling vicitim to the mold, and in an advanced case, proceeding to grow on and kill the worker
ants and queens. The mold would win simply by numbers. This type of mold takeover would be a nightmare. It actually happens in the ant keeping hobby
within moldy test tubes all the time! The second concern, was the impending possibility
that this fungus was one of several species of an ant-eating specialized parasitic fungus. The ever infamous cordyceps fungus turns adult
ants into zombies, literally taking over their brains and causing them to walk to a certain
location high up somwhere to become a breeding bed for their mushrooms which like in a terrifying
science fiction horror film, break out of the zombified ants’ bodies to expel spores
which go on to zombify other ants nearby. But to me, this mold being a cordyceps or
ant-zombifying mold was the least likely circumstance, mainly because it seemed to be mostly growing
and feeding on the sticks and mosses. Cordyceps and other such zombifying molds
feed mainly on insects and other arthropods. So what do you guys think? Do think this mold is a danger to our Tomb
Raiders? Considering all the aforementioned possibilities,
I felt our best bet was to stop this unbridled growth of the alien mold throughout the Tomb
Raider’s territories. We needed to act immediately and eradicate
it, just to be safe. So AC Family, here was my plan. I have found in all my experience in ant keeping
that molds have a tendency to show up in moist areas where the air is still and not moving. These moist, still air conditions can be a
result of an outworld that has poor ventilation. Now let’s have a look at our Tomb Raider’s
setup here. Because of the Tomb Raider’s tiny worker size
of 1-2 mm, some of the workers ants are fully able of fitting through the microholes in
the perforated floors of our Hybrid Nests, our AC plugs, and our AC Test Tube Portals
which I normally use to give ants in ant farms air. So when putting together the Tomb Raiders’
territories a few weeks ago, I couldn’t use these items to provide ventilation. Instead, I had to create small specific points
of air entry at two locations using a micro screen mesh. One at the top of the Garden of Anubis, as
well as at the top of the Field of Aaru. I also knew that anytime I opened one of the
terrariums to water or feed the Tomb Raiders, ample fresh air would enter the setup. Normally these three points of air flow would
be enough air to sustain the colony, but it seems to have also lead to stagnant, humid
air pooling inside the setup which has invited these creepy-looking molds to flourish. So, AC Family, our solution to our problem
lay in this piece of technology, our new wind maker, i.e. a fish aquarium air pump. We needed to create some wind to help save
our ants. You see, if the territories had some wind
and increased air movement within the terrariums of our Tomb Raiders, the territories would
become less favourable for these molds. I have used air pumps in the past to successfully
create microwinds in ant setups, and they have always been quite effective at not only
improving ventilation but also at keeping mold levels down. The ants however, kind of hate the wind, especially
in places they are nesting, but it is necessary sometimes to get fresh air pumping and moving
around in a stuffy, humid ant space. My plan was to install this air pump tube
to this opening in the Valley of the Kings, where the entire setup starts, which would
then pump fresh dry air through the setup, not enough to cause an ant tempest, but enough
to at least create a microwind, and theoretically keep all this alien mold growth under control. My guess is once this air pump is installed,
the colony which is currently camped out in Nerfertiti’s Tunnel will be bothered and move
somewhere else less windy. We’ll just have to see. Here we go AC Family are you ready? It’s time to give our ants some centralized
ventilation. Removing the cotton and wrapping it around
the air pump tube, and placing it into the hole opening of the Valley of the Kings. Installed. Let’s watch how our Tomb Raiders react! The colony is instantly perturbed by the sudden
winds. They can feel it throughout Nerfertini’s Tunnel. Surprisingly, ants spill out into the Valley
of the Kings, perhaps because they felt like an intruder was causing this sudden disturbance,
while others exiting Nerfertiti’s Tunnel and moving into the Garden of Anubis. Overall, just as I thought they would, the
ants seemed triggered by this sudden moving air. It surely would affect the well-being of the
brood, so they had to mobilize quickly. 12 hours later, as expected, the colony had
completely deserted Nefertiti’s Tunnel to move camp, and were now nestled in the shadows
of the Nubian Shelf. Sorry Tomb Raiders, it is for your own good. I put them back in the dark to leave them
in peace. Fast forward to two weeks later having this
constant wind blowing through the lands, and as of a couple days ago, this is what I saw. The mold was dying and decreasing in size. Yes, AC Family, our plan had worked! I was so happy at the outcome! I felt this was a positive triumph and step
towards colony fruition for our Tomb Raiders. But wanna see something else super interesting? What surprised me further was this discovery. It seems our new wind has carried moisture
from inside the Valley of the Kings, as well as from within the Garden of Anubis through
the setup, and to the Garden of Alexandria, where the moisture seems to all be collecting. The terrarium walls were moist with condensed
water. It seemed the Garden of Alexandria had became
a kind of swamp or bog land, which made it super favourable for some friends to flourish
and breed: springtails and even snails! How cool! This excited me because it meant that the
Garden of Alexandria had become the new breeding grounds and hub for the reproduction of Springtails
and Snails, who naturally clean up our ants’ garbage, organic decaying waste, and molds. These springtails and snails would then freely
migrate to other areas of the Tomb Raiders’ setup, to go on with their beneficial biological
work in those areas. The Garden of Alexandria in other words would
be the Tomb Raiders’ new janitory dispatch headquarters, which is super cool, right AC
Family? So it seems this potentially life-threatening
alien mold, now under control, has in the end lead us to improve the living space of
our Tomb Raiders by making it a more biologically balanced system for all inhabitants. I have discovered based on our past experience
particularly with our Golden Empire and even our Titans that the key to a successful and
fruitful ant farm is to establish a balanced, biological system of organisms, not much more
different than establishing a biological balance in an aquatic fish tank where all living things
depend on one another in ideal proportions. As the ant keeper, we have a very God-like
responsibility and role, to make the necessary critical decisions that ensure the thousands
and perhaps millions of lives under our care are each provided with all the things they
need to properly sustain themselves and find their balance within a contained setup. Today, AC Family, I feel we did good, and
our ants will be ok. In fact, it seems straggler pharaoh ants from
the outside are still trying to find ways to get into our Tomb Raiders’ setup to join
the rest of their family, and so I simply scoop up these interloppers with a cotton
ball and throw them inside to reunite. It was a happy ending for our Titans… or
at least so I thought, until a couple nights ago, as I was filming the Tomb Raiders and
their growing piles of brood. Something about the appearance of the queens
and even the workers didn’t seem right. Their bodies seemed somehow bumpy. So zooming in with my camera, I made a discovery
that left me speechless. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Look, AC Family! How could this be happening? I looked around and realized that all of our
Tomb Raiders were now dealing with a second plague. Mites. Tonnes and tonnes of parasitic mites. Oh man! AC Family, this is just unbelievable. Now our Tomb Raiders have a mite problem,
something our Golden Empire went through at this time, exactly 1 year ago. We must think of a solution to help our Tomb
Raiders overcome these mites! AC Inner Colony, I have left a hidden cookie
for you here, if you would like to see more extended play footage of these new parasitic
mites threatening our Tomb Raiders. I am sure a lot of you are as concerned as
I am. And before we proceed to the AC Question of
the Week, I have an exciting announcement! In case you haven’t heard yet, our annual
Christmas Sale at AntsCanada.com is in full effect! This year we have a great sale on our brand
new Hybrid Nest 2.0 and our All You Need Formica Hybrid Nest Gear Pack! So if you’ve always wanted to get into ant
keeping, I have left links in the description box to these sale items so you can pick one
up for yourself or someone you love this Christmas. We ship worldwide, but just a reminder, you
must order before Dec 18th to get your order before Christmas so go get it asap! But if you’re not fussy about getting the
item before Christmas day, this Christmas sale as usual will continue until January
1st, 2018 and we also have gift cards in case you would like to get your special loved one
an ant setup but are not sure what they would want. Keep ants with me and discover how amazing
and mind-stimulating these creatures are in real life! Alright, and now it’s time for the AC Question
of the week! In last week’s video we asked: Why did we choose to
make Golden Rock a dry setup? Congratulations to Beatriz Pacheco who correctly
answered: We don’t want the setup to
absorb moisture and rot. Congratulations Beatriz, you just won a free
ebook Handbook from our shop! In this week’s AC Question of the Week, we
ask: Name one of the several ways
in which ants keep mold and fungus levels low or under control
within the nest? Leave your answer in the comments section
and you could win a free ant t-shirt from our shop! Hope you can subscribe to the channel as we
upload every Saturday at 8AM EST. Please remember to LIKE, COMMENT, SHARE, & SUBSCRIBE
if you enjoyed this video to help us keep making more. It’s ant love forever!

My Dream Ant Farm: Leafcutter Ants

My Dream Ant Farm: Leafcutter Ants


Guys, behold the ant keeping piece de resistance. What you are looking at here is the dream
setup and species of nearly every pro ant hobbyist in the world! Trust me! We absolutely drool over this ant farm setup! So this week, I wanted to take a short break
from our regularly scheduled ant soap opera of our cherished ants in the Philippines,
and take a trip all the way to Montreal, Canada so we could completely nerd out at one of
the most impressive captive ant setups I have ever seen. What you’re about to see in this week’s video
is the dream ant setup nearly every single ant nerd on the planet, like myself, has dreamed
of having, and I can’t wait to explain why in perfect ant nerd fashion, as we tour the
Espace Pour La Vie Montreal Insectarium’s leaf-cutter ant exhibit, and talk about what
makes these fungus-farming ants some of the most biotechnologically advanced organisms
on the planet. You won’t want to miss all the epic ant discovery
ahead, so keep on watching until the end! AC Family, gather round to ant watch and completely
geek out wit me! On this episode of the AntsCanada Ant Channel. Please SUBSCRIBE to my channel, and hit the
bell icon. Welcome to the AC Family. Tired on nature channels not playing nature
shows? Just watch this channel. Enjoy! I’m currently back in Canada for a work trip,
and my travels took me to the gorgeous French Canadian city of Montreal, which happens to
house one of my favourite spots in the entire country: the Insectarium. Entering the building you find a tonne of
insect exibits, but of course my favourite was this. AC Family, welcome to the Atta exhibit, an
impressive 7 yr old colony of leaf-cutter ants. Now if you’re new to leafcutter ants, let
me tell you, these ants are some of the most mind-blowing ants ever! Last year, we covered them in an episode featuring
a desert species of leafcutter ants, which I highly recommend you watch after this video,
but these girls are a tropical species of leafcutters from South America. These ants belonging to the genus Atta, are
called leafcutter ants because of how they cut up pieces of leaves and use them to feed
their underground fungus gardens which they eat. That’s right, these ants farm microscopic
mushrooms for a living. Now check out how brilliant this setup is! Let’s take a tour, shall we! Here is the main nesting basin. Inside it are clear acrylic containers which
simulate underground chambers for the ants, and inside each one of those containers are
the gorgeous fungal gardens. Yes, those greyish honeycomb-looking things
are the ants’ giant fungus balls which they tend and care for very meticulously. You see, these ants must ensure that these
fungus crops remain healthy and continue to thrive because without them, the entire ant
colony would die, but more about that mind-blowing activity later. So each acrylic container has an opening to
which a stick is fixated in order for the leafcutter ants to climb so they can drag
their cut up pieces of leaves into the chambers. Inside each of these chambers is a plaster
floor which helps keep the inside nice and humid, necessary for the ants and the fungal
gardens to survive. In the wild, these ants create deep chambers
to house their massive fungal balls, but they will also be opportunistic as seen in this
setup and occupy any readily available space with ideal conditions. I was once in Mexico and watched an Atta colony
bringing leaves deep into a sewer. Seems these ants are resourceful and willing
to use whatever’s available in order to survive. Now let’s move backwards and see where the
ants are getting all these pieces of leaves, the food for their fungus. Traveling up this trunk base, and up this
wooden branch, and down this neat entanglement of banches, we come to the source of their
fungus food. At the other end of their setup, the ants
reach an assortment of various leaves and hibiscus flowers. Leafcutter ants don’t accept all kinds of
folliage, but amazingly the ants seem to know which plant matter would best nourish their
fungus, aka their food, and it’s those that the ants cut up and bring home. Isn’t that just amazing, AC Family? It seems the ants and their fungus have a
mutual understanding. Perhaps psychically bonded? Well, let’s leave that for another video! The leaves and flowers are kept fresh by way
of waterpicks hidden strategically around the branch entanglement. Also available to the ants are rolled oats,
which the ants also seem to love, or should I say their fungus seem to love. Now you may notice that this setup is glassless,
so you may be asking what is keeping the ants from escaping into the museum. Well, a thick band of this stuff called fluon
painted across all vertical surfaces of the basins are super slippery for the ants and
it keeps them from climbing out of the setup. Each basin is also surrounded by a moat of
water for extra security. Any ants traveling across the braches that
might slip and fall also fall into a basin secured with fluon and surrounded by a moat. Now this leaf-cutter ant colony is 7 yrs old
and contains 1 egg-laying queen living somewhere in one of these acrylic containers. She is large and apparently is seen sometimes
emerging to switch containers but is always surrounded by a massive ball of workers protecting
her. I love watching the ants traveling back and
forth carrying their pieces of cut up leaves, flowers, and oats back to the nest. It is just so entrancing and fascinating watching
the ants work tirelessly. I could literally be here for hours. How about you guys? Let’s watch them for a bit. Speaking of ant watching, one of the coolest
parts of this ant setup is the fixation of a webcam right here, which projects the ants
working onto a screen so you could watch the ants around the clock. Not sure if at one point this was streamed
online, but it gave me an idea. AC Family, if I managed to hook up a 24 hr
stream of my ants back in Manila, would you tune in to watch? Which colony would you like to see a stream
of? Let me know in the comments section and perhaps
we just might make it happen. Now I feel the reason ant keeping as a hobby
is so appealing is because of how much ants are like humans, and in my books, these leafcutter
ants are some of the most human-like ants around. They’re farmers for goodness sakes and not
only that, they’ve been farming for millions and millions of years on this planet, way
before humans ever appeared on earth. There are even fossils of leafcutter ants
as far back as 20 Million years ago. And speaking of human-like, check out their
massive pile of garbage, yes that orange hill is the colony’s garbage. Alright so here is the portion of the video
where we’re about to completely geek out, yes, more than we already have. So are you ready to hear what makes these
ants so incredible in the biological world? Prepare to be mind blown, AC Family! Ok, get this. These ants grow their fungus which they eat,
right? But believe it or not, like humans, the ants
have to deal with weeds, bad fungus which feed on their good fungus. So, the ants have a built-in weeding system. Check it out! Special patches on their body house colonies
of a specialized bacteria called Actinomyces and these specialized bacteria produce an
antibiotic which kill the fungus weeds. See this photo of a leafcutter ant which looks
like it is covered in white hair? Well, these white hairs are the strands of
antibiotic which help kill the weed fungus which kill their food fungus. But that’s not all. The mind blowing part is that the leafcutter
ants, their food fungus, the weed fungus, and the specialized bactera are all only found
within these leafcutter ant nests, nowhere else in the world! Isn’t that just crazy? These four organisms are so interdependent
on each other that they cannot exist without eachother, and do so only in these leafcutter
ant nests. Scientists are even trying to study the antibiotics
the actinomyces produce in hopes to produce antibiotic alternatives for humans. Aside from that, these ants are important
herbivores in the ecosystems where they are from, so conservation of their habitat is
super important, which brings me to why I don’t own a colony of these leafcutter ants
and a dream setup like this. I live in the Philippines, where leafcutter
ants like these don’t exist, and if you’ve been following this channel for awhile you
might recall a previous video where we outline the dangers of keeping ants that are not from
your area. We have always promoted the notion of responsible
ant keeping among private ant keepers and hobbysists, meaning the keeping of ants caught
from one’s area, but we do have one exception to the rule, and that is in cases like this
where the imported creatures are housed under very controlled environments for the purpose
of public education and/or study. Meet Dominic, the resident Myrmecologist of
the Insectarium and the one who has cared for this colony since they first received
it 7 yrs ago. He just so happened to be refilling one of
the food stations with oats when he spotted me filming and told me he was also an AC Family
member. How neat! Dominic said the Candian govement granted
them a very special permit for them to display these animals and have them in the museum,
and also mentioned that they are under constant serveillance having to abide by super strict
terms regarding maintaining the exhibit and keeping it secure so to not allow the ants
to escape. Even if these tropical ants may theoretically
fail to survive a Canadian winter, there are still other ways in which escaped ants can
negatively impact the environment here in Canada including spreading disease or other
pathogens to local flora and fauna. Also, there are other variables that one might
consider including the survival of the ants in indoor enivornments during the winter. However, it’s totally awesome that one can
visit amazing places like the Montreal Insectarium here to get up close and personal and get
a glimpse at the lives of these amazing leafcutter ants, which in turn will go on to inspire
others to admire their beauty, perhaps inspire them to seek further research about them. It is also one of the reasons why this channel
exists, the more people know about how awesome ants are the more people respect them and
want to conserve them and their habitat, and that is definitely a good thing even for our
own good. Thank you guys for contributing to this growing
ant consciousness by watching this video. I truly appreciate it! Don’t forget, guys to give this video a thumbs
up, hit the Like button, and subscribe if you enjoyed this video, and hey, even though
I can’t have this setup at home, it doesn’t mean I can’t do something similar with ants
from where I live. What do you guys say we try to create a similar
setup at home in the ant room? Which ant colony though would do best in a
setup like this? Perhaps a whole new ant species like Asian
Weaver Ants? Oh boy! This may be a very big undertaking! I’ll also marinade on some ideas and take
in some of your feedback. AC Family, until next week, this is your ant
nerd AntsCanada signing out. It’s ant love forever! Alright, AC Family! Aren’t leafcutter ants pretty cool? I’d say so! AC Inner Colony, I have left a hidden cookie
for you here if you would just like to watch some extended play footage of these ants doing
their thing in this impressive exhibit. I have also left a link in the description
box to the Insectarium’s website if you would like more information on the exhibit or on
what other cool things you can find in the Montreal Insectarium. And now it’s time for the AC Question of the
Week. Last week we asked: Name one reason why we felt the
terrarium in the video was haunted? Congratulations to Kylo Ren who correctly
answered: Everytime we tried to move an ant colony into
the terrarium they either died or caused a problem. Congratulations Kylo Ren you just won a free
ebook handbook from our shop! In this week’s AC Question of the Week, we
ask: How do live ant exhibits like this help
ants, humans, and the environment? Leave your answer in the comments section
and you could win a free ant t-shirt from our shop! Hope you can subscribe to the channel as we
upload every Saturday at 8AM EST. Please remember to LIKE, COMMENT, SHARE, & SUBSCRIBE
if you enjoyed this video to help us keep making more. It’s ant love forever!

Where Are the Ants Carrying All Those Leaves? | Deep Look

Where Are the Ants Carrying All Those Leaves? | Deep Look


We’re looking at some of the world’s earliest
and most competent farmers. These leafcutter ants make humans look like
newbies. We’ve been farming for 12,000 years. Ants have been doing it for 60 million. We developed plows and shovels. Ants use their own bodies. Their mandibles
are shears that cut through leaves with incredible efficiency. The ants drink the sap in the leaves for energy.
But they don’t eat them. Remember, they’re farming here. They’re using the leaves to grow something else. But first they have to haul the gigantic leaf
pieces away. This is no small matter. For a human, it would be like carrying more than
600 pounds between our teeth. Then, they clean the leaves. They crush them. Cut them into little pieces. Arrange them carefully in stacks. They even compost the leaves, with a little
of their own poop. They spread spores around, like seeds. Over time, a fungus grows. And that – this highly nutritious fungus
– that’s what the ants are after. They feed it to the colony’s offspring, millions of them. For humans, farming was the origin of our
civilization. And it’s the same for ants. They are fungus tycoons. Their colonies are
true underground cities with a bottomless need for resources. Having this reliable source of food has given
them the luxury to specialize. Leafcutter ants have the most complex division of labor
of any ants. There are tiny worker ants. And large worker ants. And enormous half-inch-long
soldiers that protect the colony. Like human farmers, their abundant food source
has made leafcutter ants very, very successful. And this is where two civilizations – ant
and human – collide. From Texas to South America, leafcutter ants
are huge agricultural pests. Working stealthily at night, they can strip an entire tree of
its best leaves in just hours. As their ant civilization grows, they build
up the soil in the tropical forest. But they also pose a threat to those around them. And in this way, we resemble them more than we might like to admit.

What Actually Causes Dandruff?

What Actually Causes Dandruff?


Hey! This episode was sponsored by Head & Shoulders. A hundred and twenty-five million years ago in what is now China, dinosaurs walked the earth. and a few species of small feathered dinosaurs climbed trees This is Sinornithosaurus Although they couldn’t truly fly, they could glide, which helped them evade predators and catch prey What makes these dinosaurs unique is how well-preserved their fossils were. Normally when you find a dinosaur it’s just a pile of bones and that’s all there is. In between the feathers and the parts of the feather we saw little bits of skin And you can tell that they are skin – they’re not just random bits of rock or broken up bone or something because they have a particular kind of cells within the structure which are just like the skin cells that we find in humans today Well, my first thought when I saw these was this is dinosaur dandruff and I was already planning to write the paper with the headline of we have discovered dinosaur dandruff, I thought great. So these dinosaurs may have had the first known case of dandruff. But it certainly wasn’t the last Our skin cells are constantly replenishing themselves in fact every second 500 new skin cells are created and as they move up through the outer layer of your skin, the epidermis They flatten out and harden until they fall off one by one In fact over your lifetime you will shed about a hundred pounds of dead skin But we don’t really notice this because skin falls off in such tiny microscopic pieces except for some people from some parts of the body skin comes off in larger flakes typically from the skin under the hair the scalp and this is what’s known as dandruff Now around half of everyone on earth suffers from it. So there are actually a lot of scientists who study this condition. and I’m flying to Cincinnati to Head & Shoulders headquarters to visit their lab Okay. Do you need a break or something? No, it’s funny like ’cause I’m not really sure what I’m getting myself into right No. No. I am going to have my head swabbed Mm-hmm. You are What what is that all about? I mean, this is something you do to people all the time? Oh, yeah. Every day. –You’re gonna cotton swab my scalp. –Yes And we’re looking for what? So we are gonna be looking for the malassezia that is on your scalp. Okay, so what do I need to do? So I need you to have a seat here. Let’s see and I just put my head in here? Yeah, put your head face forward. Okay. What I’m gonna do is I’m gonna part your hair. So now I’m gonna take my swab I’m basically gonna grab off your scalp. Mm-hmm So then what I do is I take this These are sticky plates here that I can plate the malassezia on and what I can do is I can add a stain throw this under the microscope and this is the individual cells of malassezia here. Malassezia globosa is a fungus that lives on your scalp it thrives in the warm moist environment under your hair and it is thought to be one of the causes of dandruff. So, how did my swab come back? Well, I have malassezia living on my head. This is actually what the fungus looks like. This is a lawn of the Malassezia globosa fungi. You say a lawn. It’s a lawn. So basically you can see those little dots they’re all individual colonies and when they grow really close together like that, that’s a lawn, Kind of like a bunch of grass Now that I’m close to and actually smell it it smells like bread Yeah, well, you know, it’s a yeast You know it’s a free, living fungus just like the Saccharomyces that are used to make bread and make beer with So, could you make bread with this? Uh.. No. I wouldn’t want to make bread with the yeast off of your scalp. Not right now. — Have you been tested? — I’ve been tested. Yes. — And what did it come out to? I have a decent amount. So… But we all do. So… It’s on everyone’s head. It’s on everyone’s head as long as you have hair. –Right But if everyone has Malassezia, why do only half of us get dandruff? Well Malassezia lives on the oils called sebum secreted by your skin The fungi release enzymes called lipases that break down fat molecules Oh, so this is one of the lipases that Malassezia produces So this is something that Malassezia uses to get food But unfortunately as a byproduct of that it also attacks your scalp because it produces free fatty acids that irritate the scalp for some of us those molecules are perceived as invaders if you will and all the defensive forces that we have will get turned on to repel essentially these invading molecules and those defensive forces end up causing this collateral damage that we interpret as an unhealthy scalp and dandruff One of the scalps defenses is to speed up the turnover of skin cells So instead of taking a month for skin cells to mature and reach the surface they take as little as seven days When you know they get to the surface the adhesive function from one cell to the other hasn’t been lost And so they shed as these clumps of skin cells three or four hundred together, which we see as a dandruff flake the dandruff flakes are just an indicator of a fundamentally unhealthy scalp underlying it by any measure you can dream of making Dandruff skin samples show elevated levels of inflammatory cytokines Histamines which cause itching, and blood proteins on the surface of the scalp Indicating that the skin is not acting as a good barrier between your insides and the outside world But it goes even further than that down to the level of gene expression Scientists took swabs from healthy scalps and dandruff scalps and then they extracted the RNA Effectively markers of which genes are being expressed and how strongly and then they compared the two groups and they found that there were nearly 4000 genes which were systematically either up-regulated or down-regulated in the dandruff scalps compared to the healthy scalps for example immune and inflammatory response genes were up-regulated, things like lipid metabolism were down regulated and it all kind of makes sense But now that you know that there’s a difference at the level of gene expression, How do you actually treat dandruff? So this is the the lawn of Malassezia. This is the Malassezia with a spot of the Head & Shoulders active put on it The Malassezia just doesn’t grow where that Head & Shoulders active actually is These active ingredients can be zinc pyrithione, selenium sulfide, or piroctone olamine. They are controlling the metabolism of those Malassezia cells that are leading to irritating substances so the idea is to suppress their bio activity to some extent so that we’re reducing the level of irritating substances on our scalp that trigger the irritation and hyperproliferation and buried destruction that we talked about now that we understand like these clusters in these genes signatures of dandruff is Can we reverse these gene signatures if we treat with Head & Shoulders? So this is the group of dandruff at baseline and these genes are all down-regulated and then these genes are up-regulated You can see if you treat with just a cosmetic shampoo that you really don’t make a difference in those genes But if you treat with Head & Shoulders after three weeks This signature looks just like somebody who doesn’t have dandruff. And so you’re looking at 3,700 genes have all clustered all on here, And you’re seeing them flip around. They’re going from an unhealthy signature to a healthy signature So Head & Shoulders reduces the Malassezia irritants on the scalp, changing your scalp‘s response, and ultimately reducing skin flakes So unlike dinosaurs, we don’t have to live with dandruff But in their case the presence of skin flakes reveals something important about their biology They had evolved warm-bloodedness and hence feathers as a way to keep warm But once they had feathers skin could no longer be shed in one piece like a snake but instead in tiny pieces So in fact, although it’s an amusing discovery it actually had quite an important or profound point because it tells us that dinosaurs while commonly called reptiles are on the side of the birds and the mammals in terms of physiology. They were definitely warm-blooded Hey, I hope you learned something from watching this video I certainly learned a lot making it. and if you want to find out more about Head & Shoulders research or about how to get rid of dandruff I will put a link to their website down in the description so I want to say a big thanks to Head & Shoulders for supporting this episode of Veritasium and I want to thank you for washing. Or, watching

Leafcutter ants use tiny prehensile “toes” to tear up leaves for their fungus farms

Leafcutter ants use tiny prehensile “toes” to tear up leaves for their fungus farms


Leaf cutter ants farm and eat fungus in
underground nests. Their colonies harvest around 150 kilograms of plant
matter every year to feed their fungus crop. To understand how the ants turn
leaves into so much fungus food scientists filmed their behavior in the
lab. They found that leaf cutter ants have prehensile leg tips which they used to delicately grasp and manipulate leaves as they cut them into tiny
fragments. These dexterous tips are more flexible than non-prehensile ones– allowing a precision grip. The team calculated that the ants must
cut nearly three kilometers of leaf edge to process one square meter of plant matter–
putting leaf cutter ants near the limit of their energy budget. But the ants
minimize their work by choosing smaller leaves. and feeding them to the fungus as fragments rather than pulp. The ants prehensile leg tips help them
harvest food for their fungus crop more efficiently, giving them one leg up in
getting fungus from farm to table.