The mushroom from The Last of Us exists.
Films about the zombie apocalypse – that’s another topic! They are always interesting to watch with the knowledge that this is a fantasy and you are safe. You may not have known, but The Last of Us is already taking place in nature.
Mushroom cordyceps lopsided really exists – This special type of mushroom parasitizes on carpenter ants and is common in tropical forests. The peculiarity of the fungus is that it changes the behavior of the host organism. 2-3 weeks after the fungus enters the body, the infected ant leaves the colony, climbs to a height of about 30 cm of the northern part of the plant and fixes itself on the leaf, digging its jaws into the vein. Thus, the fungi provide themselves with the best position for the spread of spores. After the death of an ant, the fungus sprouts through its body.and a red-brown fruiting body grows from the head.
Dead ants continue to spread spores of the fungus, and the cuticle of the ant becomes a protective sheath for the parasite. Moreover, the fungus grows twice as large as the length of the ant, after which it begins to reproduce.
How can a fungus even control an ant?
Cordyceps creates a complex cellular network inside the body of an ant, which braids all the internal organs and chemically controls every corner of its body. But it does not penetrate the host’s central nervous system, as they did in the games and the movie.
By the way, these fungi controlled the behavior of ants 48 million years ago – this is evidenced by a fossil found on the territory of the German Messel quarry.
How does infection occur in the game and The Last of Us movie?
In The Last of Us series of games, mutated Cordyceps infect people through spores, turning the victim into some kind of zombie. The fungus attacked the nervous system, forming mycelium in the cerebral cortex. This erased the memory of a person and made him insane. The behavior of the infected is primitive, the main instincts are only the spread of spores and food. Eventually the fungus will kill the host and begin to grow out of the host’s body, forming fruiting bodies for the mass dispersal of spores.
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In the film, the way the fungus spread was changed – it mutated due to a slight increase in temperature on Earth, then it entered the body of people through flour and pastries, and then the infected transmitted mutations by bites or kisses through mushroom antennae.