Friday, March 31, 2023

Zombie mushrooms: these are the specimens that attack like parasites in “The Last of Us”

This Sunday a new chapter of the HBO series, “The Last of Us”, The production, based on the horror video game, is set in a dystopian future in the United States after a deadly pandemic turned a large portion of the global population into dangerous zombies.

Pedro Pascal'S Capture
The capture of Pedro Pascal in HBO’s “The Last of Us.” Credits: Twitter @screenscaps

The disease, baptized in the series as Cordyceps brain infection, is caused by a variety of specific fungi, Cordyceps, a species that you can easily find in nature, yes, in real life.

video game producers, Neil Druckermanhas confessed to being inspired by a documentary about these species and then the game developers consulted David Hughes, professor of biology and entomology at Pennsylvania State University and an expert on the Cordyceps fungus.

Makeup Test Of A Victim Infected With Cordyceps
Makeup test of the cordyceps-infected victim for “The Last of Us” (HBO). Credits @barriegower

What are zombie mushrooms?

Different varieties of fungi found in nature act similarly to the microorganisms responsible for the zombie apocalypse in various pieces of fiction.

Some are resistant to available treatments, such as white ear but others prefer Ophiocardyceps Sinensis, which Corresponds to a fungus that behaves as a parasite on insect ecosystems in Tibet and Nepal.

This fungus infects the living larvae of butterflies, then kills them, mummifies them, and then a black, erect stalk emerges.

Despite its parasitic behavior, it is not a particularly feared mushroom; on the contrary, it is highly valued for its purported medicinal benefits.

Can fungus manipulate the body?

The premise of zombies is that a parasitic organism takes control of the body, and in this case, the brain, of humans. Although there is no record of this in our species, some fungi have been able to take over the bodies of some insects.

On the one hand, you can find fungus within the Cordyceps family. ophiocardiceps unilateral A specimen that can be found on the head of carpenter ants in Thailand.

This organism literally manipulates the ants, modifying their behavior and making their bodies move in the direction the fungus needs in order to continue infecting new specimens.

To achieve this, the fungus takes complete control of the ant’s central nervous system and muscles, but strangely, the brain is left intact and unmanaged, Hughes explained inversely.

In other cases, fungi control certain aspects of their host in order to manipulate the behavior of other specimens.

he acts like Entomophthora flies, an organism that colonizes female houseflies. Within 6 days, the fungus kills the fly, spreads inside it, and triggers a chemical reaction that allows the carcass to release pheromones to attract males, and they become infected during breeding. Let’s go

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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