When Grasshoppers Go Biblical: Serotonin Causes Locusts to Swarm

Friday, January 30, 2009 - 16:42 in Biology & Nature

What makes harmless little green grasshoppers turn into brown, crop-chomping clouds of swarming locusts? Serotonin, according to a study published this week in Science. Researchers from universities in the UK and Australia found that that neurotransmitter (a chemical compound that sends impulses between nerve cells and affects everything from sleep to aggression in humans) spurs a cascade of Dr. Jekyll-to-Mr. Hyde–like changes in at least one species of grasshopper -- the desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria). This species is infamous for wreaking havoc from Africa to Asia. [More]

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