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Cordyceps: Real-life mushrooms that inspired the story of The Last of Us

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The fungus that inspired the creators of ‘The Last of Us’ is real, but it doesn’t pose a threat to humans. I am asking you to pay

The tale of Last of Us from both the video game and HBO series, revolves around an evolution-generated pandemic cordyceps is a type of parasitic fungus that takes over and infects people’s minds and bodies, turning them into zombies.

But do these types of creatures exist in real life? The answer is yes, but it doesn’t affect humans.

What is Cordyceps?

like a slogan Cnn in Spanish Cordyceps is a genus of fungi, with several species, some of which have devastating effects on insects.

Specifically, those that can turn their hosts into zombies are scientifically known as Ophiocordyceps.

About 35 species of the insect-turning-zombie genus Ophiocordyceps have been identified, but João Araújo, a parasitic fungi expert at the New York Botanical Garden, estimates there may be as many as 600 species.

As in the series, the parasite hijacks the mind of the infected, keeping them away from the colony and infecting their allies.

Another similarity is that the insect’s body changes so that you can see fungal branches coming out of it and spreading spores.

Ian Will, a fungal geneticist at the University of Central Florida (USA), points out that the first symptom of infected insects is erratic, erratic behavior.

The fungus is thought to proliferate fungal cells in the victim’s brain, hijacking the nervous system and controlling the muscles.

Will explains that it is unclear whether they will achieve this by releasing chemicals into the insects or by altering their DNA.

zombie ants

One of the most affected insects is the ant.2011 article by BBC It describes what they experience when they become infected.

“It looks like a mix of horror and science fiction. Treetop ants are invaded by a parasitic fungus that behaves like a zombie, then kills and leaves,” they said.

Will says national geographic These look like “little Christmas ornaments in the woods”.

Zombie ant cases have been reported mainly in Florida, Brazil, and Japan.

"Zombie" Ants Infected with Cordyceps
Wikimedia Commons

Can this fungus infect humans?

The series and video game The Last of Us suggest that fungi could evolve and infect humans as a result of climate change, is this possible?

Will said that while the logic of the story made sense, ‘Unlikely to happen in real life’ .

Of course, the current risk isn’t that fungi turn humans into zombies, but rising temperatures on Earth pose a real danger of increased or worsening fungal infections in humans.

Fungi are thought to have evolved for about 45 million years, Araújo said, but it would take too many years to have the ability to infect warm-blooded creatures.

“If fungi really want to infect mammals, they need millions of years of genetic change.” Araujo says.

In fact, they explain, this strain usually infects specific species. “For example, a cordyceps that evolved to infect ants in Thailand cannot infect another ant species in Florida,” says Natgio.

In this sense, Will explains: “If jumping to an ant seed is hard, jumping to a human is definitely sci-fi.”

“But this idea that temperature plays a role in fungal infection is certainly reasonable,” he emphasizes.

Candida auris, a fungus dangerous to humans

Of the millions of species of fungi that exist, hundreds are estimated to be dangerous to humans.

Many fungi cannot survive inside the body because their body temperature is around 36°.

“One reason skin fungi exist is that they can get between skin folds,” says Shmuel Shoham, an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. It is a moist, dark place where it can grow at temperatures below body temperature.

“There is concern that as the planet warms, the change between ambient and body temperature will be less dramatic,” he says.

In this context, fungi Candida auris It’s one of those things that affects humans. Arturo Casadevall, an infectious disease expert at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, said, “This fungus has been out there and over the years has adapted to and been able to break through higher temperatures.” said.

However, the effects of fungi that infect humans differ from cordyceps.

Symptoms resemble those of a bacterial infection, and most people recover well after treatment.

Nevertheless, The problem is people with weakened immune systems even leading to death.

Source: Biobiochile

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