HBO’s new series The Last of Us has drawn millions of viewers and generated considerable buzz since its release. Based on a 2013 video game, the show is set 20 years after a global pandemic sparked by a mass fungal infection that transforms people into zombie-like creatures. The fictional fungus, which is based on real-life species that infect ants, is referred to in The Last of Us as “Cordyceps.” That is the name of a group of actual fungi, but where is the line between fact and fancy? NYBG has the answers and is here to set the record straight. Join Assistant Curator of Mycology, Dr. João Araújo, as he untangles a few common misconceptions about this fascinating (and frightening!) fungus.
About the Speaker
João Araújo is the Assistant Curator of Mycology, Institute of Systematic Botany at the New York Botanical Garden. João’s research interest is related to insect-associated fungi, the taxonomy, systematics and evolutionary ecology.
He’s currently working on the diversity and evolution of Japanese, Amazonian and African entomopathogenic fungi. His typical approach is to combine fundamental taxonomic science with natural history, field work, evolutionary biology, microscopy and photography.
Images ©João Araújo