Zombies, parasites, ants, and brains

I’ve posted a few things before from the Breaking Bio group that I participate in, which is basically an online coffee house brew pub where a bunch of my biology friends get together and talk about cool research.  I thought you might enjoy this interview with a researcher that works on ZOMBIE FUNGUS.


We interviewed David Hughes (@zombieantguy): entomologist, parasitologist, and specialist on fungi that invade insects and alter their behavior.  Dr. Hughes also works as a consultant to Hollywood and video games!   Hollywood? Yep, David was a consultant to World War Z.  Video games? Yes!  The Last of Us uses what we know about insect parasitic fungi as a basis for the plot:

“In The Last of Us, 60 percent of humanity is wiped out by the genus of parasitic fungus Cordyceps. Out of the 400 species in the genus, all of these parasites make their homes inside the bodies of others—mostly in insects.”

Favorite line from this interview: “We scientists are far too precious. We need to get out of our ivory tower….”  Yay! Down with pedantry!

Speaking of pedantry, I will warn you that some of the discussion of WWZ detours down an argument about whether or not there is enough genetic material in a virus to create an actual reanimated zombie. But it’s pretty hilarious pedantry about how a zombie would actually work and if increased spittle and biting could be genetically programmed by a parasite.


Amazing featured image is courtesy Geoff Gallice; taken in Manu, Madre de Dios, Peru.  Check out the full size image for amazing details!


Bug_girl has a PhD in Entomology, and is a pointy-headed former academic living in Ohio. She is obsessed with insects, but otherwise perfectly normal. Really! If you want a daily stream of cool info about bugs, follow her Facebook page or find her on Twitter.

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  1. Playing ‘The Last of Us’ now. Definitely hating on fungus-infected zombie creatures right now. *shiver*

  2. Off topic, but when I opened this blog I got an add featuring a woman is a Sci Fi princess outfit, marked “Male gamers only”. Wartune. Warning. “This game is too hot to handle!”

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