HBO’s new show, The Last of Us, has sparked widespread curiosity on the phenomenon of parasitic fungi. Based on the real-life Ophiocordyceps unilateralis fungus that takes over the minds of ants and ultimately kills them, the TV series imagines a human zombie apocalypse.
But, could this ever happen in real life?
WBEZ turned to Matt Nelsen, a fungus researcher at Chicago’s Field Museum, to ask a few questions. In this video, he walks us through how the fungus actually spreads, putting our vertebrate hearts at ease. He also shows us the Field’s incredible, but unfortunate, collection of bugs that fell prey to the fungus. Still, in our fascination, Nelsen reminds us fungus isn’t all bad.
Read more at wbez.org/zombiefungus.
Mendy Kong is a digital producer at WBEZ. Follow them @ngogejat.