Email
Password
Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

article imageZombie-like fungus infects cicada with hallucinogens

By Tim Sandle     Jun 26, 2019 in Science
A fungus that can infect species of cicada has been found to induce a hallucinogenic state and to trigger physiological changes, like limbs falling off. The hallucinogen is of a type similar to the chemical associate with magic mushrooms.
Scientists from West Virginia University have found out that a cicada infecting fungus called Massopora contains chemicals similar to the type found in hallucinogenic mushrooms. Cicada refers to any large broad insect of the homopterous family Cicadidae, w=insects that are most common in warm regions. There are two infectious forms of the fungus that a cicada can become infected with, called Stage I and Stage II, each producing different spores.
READ MORE: Canada's indoor vertical mushroom farm takes off
The invasive fungus leads to cicadas to losing their limbs and triggering eccentric behaviors. The atypical responses include hypersexual behaviors where males try to mate with everything they encounter (this is notwithstanding that the fungus has eaten away their genitals and butts). The strange thing is that although the fungus causes irreparable damage to the insect, the insects continue to act as though nothing is wrong, engaging in a mix of normal and abnormal behaviors. This is probably an evolutionary aspect, as it allows one cicada to infect another with the fungal disease.
According to one of the scientists, Matt Kasson there is a 'walking dead' connection: ""They are only zombies in the sense that the fungus is in control of their bodies."
Detailed analysis revealed that the fungus produces psychoactive compounds, similar to those found in macroscopic magic mushrooms (the fungi causing the infection of the insects is microscopic). As an aside, the research could lead to, upon further investigation of the fungus, pharmacologically important secondary metabolites.
The research has been published in the journal Fungal Ecology, with the research paper titled "Psychoactive plant- and mushroom-associated alkaloids from two behavior modifying cicada pathogens."
More about Fungi, cicada, Massopora, Hallucinogen
More news from
Latest News
Top News