Fungal Parasites! (Help please?)

For the discussion of the sciences. Physics problems, chemistry equations, biology weirdness, it all goes here.

Moderators: gmalivuk, Moderators General, Prelates

User avatar
smw543
Posts: 1248
Joined: Thu Oct 23, 2008 4:45 am UTC
Location: Orlando, Florida

Fungal Parasites! (Help please?)

Postby smw543 » Wed May 20, 2009 12:37 am UTC

So, I come prostrate before you mighty science (especially biology) majors, requesting help. I'm an English (writing) major, and every class I've taken absolutely forbade any sort of "genre" stories, such as science fiction. But the professor for the one I'm in now said she'll allow an exception for one of our two stories. There's a story I've been wanting to write for a while now, but it occurs to me that my knowledge of insect-specific fungal parasites is somewhat lacking.

Long story short, is anyone familiar with the cordyceps variety of fungus (or any other entomopathogenic fungi?) The idea is to have a realistic version of it that can infect humans. Of course, there are plenty of fungi that can infect and kill humans, but the important part is how the fruiting body* grows out of the corpse.

Also, if anyone knows other cool/interesting facts about this, please share. Even if it isn't useful for the story, I'd appreciate information about this disturbingly fascinating subject.
Spoiler:
*Image
Note: I'm pretty sure I'm the only person in the class who even knows what entomopathogenic means (in other words, my classmates don't know anything about science) so the explanation doesn't have to perfect, just convincing enough to fool a bunch of English majors. Also, the narrator isn't a scientist or anything, so that should add some leeway.
Spoiler:
LE4dGOLEM wrote:Now you know the difference between funny and sad.
Ubik wrote:But I'm too fond of the penis to let it go.
gmalivuk wrote:If you didn't want people to 'mis'understand you, then you probably should have tried saying something less stupid.

User avatar
Cynwulf
Posts: 208
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 9:03 pm UTC
Location: California

Re: Fungal Parasites! (Help please?)

Postby Cynwulf » Wed May 20, 2009 1:32 am UTC

A few things:

1. This sounds like a totally awesome story subject. Could you post it when complete? I'm a nerd, I know >>;

2. I can't help directly, my biology knowledge is pretty limited. Have you tried Wikipedia and ye olde Google search?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cordyceps
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entomopathogenic_fungus

3. Since you are at college, try poking around the Biology Department. If you ask a mycologist PhD or grad student I'm sure they will chatter away on the subject.
L'homme est libre au moment qu'il veut l'être. | Man is free at the instant he wants to be.
- Voltaire

User avatar
smw543
Posts: 1248
Joined: Thu Oct 23, 2008 4:45 am UTC
Location: Orlando, Florida

Re: Fungal Parasites! (Help please?)

Postby smw543 » Wed May 20, 2009 6:55 am UTC

I can't post it until at least late June when the class is over just in case the professor does a Google search (they do it at random to catch plagiarizers.) I'd rather save myself the trouble of proving I really am smw543.

And yes, Wikipedia is my lord and savior. But lo, it is a cold, distant God, ignoring my prayers for guidance (and those articles are pretty short, too.) Hence, I came here to ask, most importantly, could one of these types of fungus adapt to infect humans? If so, how similarly would the infection progress in a human host compared to an insect one? Could the fruiting body penetrate the skull like it does the carapace of an ant or beetle? I haven't decided how the new variation will come about (either as a bioweapon or by evolving naturally), but either way it would be better/more believable if it descends from something that currently exists in the real world.

I'll definitely ask my bio major friend which professors I should ask (some of them are kinda jerky/don't speak English very well.) Hopefully I'll find a mycologist who enjoys science fiction, or at least enjoys the boost to his ego of knowing that someone actually wants to write a story about fungus. I imagine he'll be one of those types who starts every lecture with a fungi/fun guy joke.
Spoiler:
LE4dGOLEM wrote:Now you know the difference between funny and sad.
Ubik wrote:But I'm too fond of the penis to let it go.
gmalivuk wrote:If you didn't want people to 'mis'understand you, then you probably should have tried saying something less stupid.

User avatar
PM 2Ring
Posts: 3713
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:19 pm UTC
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Fungal Parasites! (Help please?)

Postby PM 2Ring » Wed May 20, 2009 11:32 am UTC

I know a little about cordyceps & similar species, but I'm no mycologist. (FWIW, there are some cordyceps species that are native to Australia. They protect some wattle plants from root predation by caterpillars).

I think the idea of it being bio-engineered will make it more plausible. Do want it to just affect humans, or can it attack other animals (eg pet cats & dogs) as well?

Your fungus could grow along the nervous system, allowing it to enter the brain. This could also give it some control over the actions of the host organism (before it's too incapacitated). Some fungi do this to ants, making the infected ants climb to the top of grass blades, where they are more likely to be eaten by birds, the next host in the fungus lifecycle.

I reckon skull bones are pretty tough, even with a vicious fungus attacking. For the grand finale, the fruiting bodies could burst out of the victims' eye sockets.

Edit:
I mentioned this on another science forum, but haven't managed to catch our resident mycologist yet. However, another forumite posted this photo she took of a native Australian cordyceps fruiting body, which she said "emerge from the ground like the fingers of a corpse".

Spoiler:
Image
Last edited by PM 2Ring on Wed May 20, 2009 1:19 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Charlie!
Posts: 2035
Joined: Sat Jan 12, 2008 8:20 pm UTC

Re: Fungal Parasites! (Help please?)

Postby Charlie! » Wed May 20, 2009 12:17 pm UTC

IANAM, but maybe I can help a little.

All the right nutrients are there in humans as in insects, so our I'd bet you a bajillion dollars the main barrier is that our immune system is better than theirs at stopping parasites. Thanks, immune system!

So to go from eliminated by the immune system to lethal in humans, you'd need some sort of seriously powerful adaptation. HIV is hella good at evading our immune system and it still has problems (well that and having adapted to not kill its hosts quickly). What can we think of that would be good enough? Every marker subtly changed? Mm, resistance would still develop. Maybe HIV's quick-change trick. Mimicking a host cell. Making the cell wall (not the membrane) awesomely resistant or craftily sneaky somehow. Um, I'll think of more on my morning drive.

A second adaptation would have to be the size of the fruiting body, but hey, fiction.
Some people tell me I laugh too much. To them I say, "ha ha ha!"

User avatar
smw543
Posts: 1248
Joined: Thu Oct 23, 2008 4:45 am UTC
Location: Orlando, Florida

Re: Fungal Parasites! (Help please?)

Postby smw543 » Wed May 20, 2009 12:38 pm UTC

I've spent the past few hours writing, and I've settled a few things:

—The fungus will come about as a bioweapon, which will be a significant plot point.

—I will probably go with the eyes as the point of emergence (the idea actually came to me just before I came to check replies to this thread; it seems so obvious in retrospect.)

—The fungus will probably be pathogenic to other mammals, most significantly horses and other beasts of burden. This will explain why a human with immunity has to dispose of the bodies (and the immunity isn't the [rant]unexplained pure chance variety that so many stories use as a convenient plot device[/rant]; rather the protagonist is immune because he is descended from the people who engineered the fungus and altered their own DNA so they wouldn't fall victim to their own weapon.)

—I was thinking about the possibility of having the fungus influence the host, but I'm not sure it would work. It seems the fungus does it to ants by altering their ability to detect pheromones, which are pretty much the #1 factor in anything an ant does. AFAIK, the most pheromones can do to humans is slightly alter their mood or push them towards a different decision. It's still a possibility, but it's not really related to the plot, so I'm not going to worry about it too much.

I really appreciate the help so far! One thing I want to point out, however, is that this is meant to be soft science fiction, in the sense that it's main concern is with the characters rather than the science. Basically, while things like Charlie's comment about immunity are helpful (and appreciated :D), they probably won't end up in the story since the narrator isn't particularly well-versed in science. The main reason I'm pointing this out is because I know how ridiculously helpful many xkcd forumites are, and I'd feel bad if someone actually went and did a bunch of research that I ended up not needing. (But feel free to post anything you happen to know as it may come in handy.)
Spoiler:
LE4dGOLEM wrote:Now you know the difference between funny and sad.
Ubik wrote:But I'm too fond of the penis to let it go.
gmalivuk wrote:If you didn't want people to 'mis'understand you, then you probably should have tried saying something less stupid.

qetzal
Posts: 862
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 12:54 pm UTC

Re: Fungal Parasites! (Help please?)

Postby qetzal » Wed May 20, 2009 2:19 pm UTC

A few semi-random thoughts.

First, check out this page on fungal sinusitis - particularly the part on fulminant sinusitis (emphasis added):

Fulminant Sinusitis is usually seen in the immunocompromised patient (an individual whose immunologic mechanism is deficient either because of an immunodeficiency disorder or because it has been rendered so by immunosuppressive agents). The disease leads to progressive destruction of the sinuses and can invade the bony cavities containing the eyeball and brain.


Your fungus could be partly derived from this, and engineered to synthesize & secrete immunosuppressives. Fungi are extremely adept at making weird chemicals, so that's even reasonably plausible (as long as you're already assuming the ability to engineer this particular fungus).

As for behavioral effects, recall that rabies virus causes humans and animals to develop an irrational fear of water. So maybe it's not too far-fetched that a fungus could have a similar sort of effect. Climbing to the top of a tree is probably a bit much, but something more subtle seems reasonable. Actually engineering for such an effect would probably be exceedingly difficult though. Maybe it could be an unexpected property, one that its creators didn't intend? That could take the story in interesting directions.

I vaguely remember reading a story about an engineered virus released by a terrorist. In that story, newly infected women felt horny & were likely to engage in sex, before symptoms of illness developed and they died. Of course, the virus was sexually transmitted. Probably not highly biologically plausible, but reasonable for a plot device.

I'd also like to read the final result, so I hope you'll come back to post it once your class is over!

User avatar
Charlie!
Posts: 2035
Joined: Sat Jan 12, 2008 8:20 pm UTC

Re: Fungal Parasites! (Help please?)

Postby Charlie! » Thu May 21, 2009 12:51 am UTC

qetzal wrote:
Fulminant Sinusitis is usually seen in the immunocompromised patient (an individual whose immunologic mechanism is deficient either because of an immunodeficiency disorder or because it has been rendered so by immunosuppressive agents). The disease leads to progressive destruction of the sinuses and can invade the bony cavities containing the eyeball and brain.


Your fungus could [blibbity bloo], and [be] engineered to synthesize & secrete immunosuppressives. Fungi are extremely adept at making weird chemicals, so that's even reasonably plausible (as long as you're already assuming the ability to engineer this particular fungus).

Ooh, Immunosuppressive chemicals. I missed that one, that's good.
Some people tell me I laugh too much. To them I say, "ha ha ha!"

User avatar
semicharmed
Posts: 911
Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2008 12:04 am UTC
Contact:

Re: Fungal Parasites! (Help please?)

Postby semicharmed » Thu May 21, 2009 3:42 am UTC

IANA mycologist/immunologist, but some thoughts: the central nervous system is an immunologically privileged space, which means that, among other things, it tolerates the presence of antigens better. Meaning a foreign particle (or fungus) won't necessarily trigger an immune response until it's too late. Which makes the CNS a plausible means of attack for the fungus, although getting it there could be tricky. Maybe it's spread through inhalation of spores that then travel up the olfactory nerve to the brain.
Also, pure chance is pretty much how (acquired) immunity works, so it's not pulled out of the air as much as it can seem. But for something that infects the CNS, genetic engineered resistance seems much more plausible than a natural resistance, as anything that increases immune activity in the CNS could seriously fuck with the workings of the blood/brain barrier.

User avatar
PM 2Ring
Posts: 3713
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:19 pm UTC
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Fungal Parasites! (Help please?)

Postby PM 2Ring » Thu May 21, 2009 2:38 pm UTC

Speaking of immunosuppressives... From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cordyceps

Some Cordyceps species are sources of biochemicals with interesting biological and pharmacological properties[6], like cordycepin; the anamorph of Cordyceps subsessilis (Tolypocladium inflatum) was the source of cyclosporin — a drug helpful in human organ transplants, as it suppresses the immune system

Cordyceps fungi are part of the Clavicipitaceae family. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clavicipitaceae
Many of its members produce alkaloids toxic to animals and humans. One of its most infamous species is Claviceps purpurea, which has historical significance as the cause of St. Anthony's Fire, also known as ergotism. Ergotism is caused by ergot alkaloids, such as ergotamine and ergocristine, which are chemical derivatives of lysergic acid.

So it seems reasonable that a human-attacking GEed cordyceps should suppress the immune system, and it could also have psychotropic qualities.

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: Fungal Parasites! (Help please?)

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu May 21, 2009 3:12 pm UTC

Just some food for thought input on the comments that have been made:

1. CNS is protected by a variety of very stringent barriers, and is also very different in terms of chemistry and floating nutrients then is the rest of the body. Parasites are really good at moving into different biomes (environments, hosts, spaces within hosts, etc), but you might want to include some specificity about it being specifically engineered to do so. Or I dunno, what happens as it tries to.
2. Shit bursting from tear ducts just made me shiver. Shit bursting from eyeballs is grosser, but a little less realistic (people would go blind far before the parasite was able to burst). There are a number of parasites that infect ocular cavities, and I'm not linking anything, but there are a host of photos of worms crawling across peoples eyeballs... Blurg.
3. All sorts of behavioral modifications can be toyed with. You can go as nuts as mild behaviors (phobia's [water, light, sound, upsidedown numbers], philias [salt, meat, cat piss, heat/cold, clowns]) or as wild as previously laid canon (walking into the wind until your feet bleed, pointing at opponents and emitting high pitch screams, clawing one's flesh off).
4. The primate immune system is really really good as far as life on Earth goes, but don't mistake that with superiority, because we have our fair share of specific parasites/diseases that have evolved to outperform our defenses. So while we may be immune to Cordyceps (I don't actually know if we are... scary thought), that's not because we're better, but rather because Cordyceps hasn't taken notice of us yet.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

JWalker
Posts: 222
Joined: Sun Nov 23, 2008 1:13 am UTC

Re: Fungal Parasites! (Help please?)

Postby JWalker » Thu May 21, 2009 8:25 pm UTC

IANAM but I am sure that there was an episode of the X-files about this very thing. You might be interested in watching it for inspiration for visuals as well as some pseudoscience.

olcaddy
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2008 8:24 pm UTC

Re: Fungal Parasites! (Help please?)

Postby olcaddy » Thu May 21, 2009 9:56 pm UTC

There are lots of things you could do to keep it from the plagiarism search. a private Google doc that you share the link of, or upload it as a jpg on your favorite host. It certainly sounds interesting keep up the good work

User avatar
smw543
Posts: 1248
Joined: Thu Oct 23, 2008 4:45 am UTC
Location: Orlando, Florida

Re: Fungal Parasites! (Help please?)

Postby smw543 » Fri May 22, 2009 8:27 am UTC

Well, it won't be finished for a while (I've only written the first couple pages) and the draft I turn in next month probably won't be truly "finished" - the whole plot will be there, but I'll likely add in some more scenes in my spare time. Since it's a summer class and only lasts six weeks, there is a max length of 25 pages, and I'm predicting the final version will be considerably longer (and much more complex, with a couple of other characters, added details about the war that led to making the fungus, and other things that won't fit within 25 pages.)
The X-files, Episode: Firewalker wrote:A similar plot device.
I haven't seen that one, but it looks like it has a completely different plot from what I'm planning, it just happens to use a similar fungus. Still, I guess I should go watch it to make sure I don't step on their toes or upset that guy who wore an X-Files shirt to the first day of class. As for borrowing ideas, I'm a bit hesitant to take scientific advice from a show that perpetuates the myth that the Coriolis effect determines which direction water will drain (it was in that creepy one where the teacher uses magic to kill everybody. Nevar forget!!!)
Spoiler:
LE4dGOLEM wrote:Now you know the difference between funny and sad.
Ubik wrote:But I'm too fond of the penis to let it go.
gmalivuk wrote:If you didn't want people to 'mis'understand you, then you probably should have tried saying something less stupid.

User avatar
iop
Posts: 930
Joined: Tue Jul 24, 2007 11:26 am UTC
Location: The ivory tower

Re: Fungal Parasites! (Help please?)

Postby iop » Fri May 22, 2009 4:39 pm UTC

One potential problem might be that fungi are relatively easy to kill using drugs as far as parasites go, since they differ quite a bit from humans (so stuff that kills fungi is not going to kill humans). However, you could claim that the fungus has been engineered to be resistant to common antifungal drugs. Engineered immunity could come about thanks to neurons producing a antifungal protein (which would be hard to reverse-engineer and to mass-produce as a drug), though such an immune response may be outmutated by the fungus, so that at some point, even the supposedly resistant humans might start dying.

Seraph
Posts: 343
Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2007 4:51 pm UTC

Re: Fungal Parasites! (Help please?)

Postby Seraph » Fri May 22, 2009 5:41 pm UTC

One potential problem might be that fungi are relatively easy to kill using drugs as far as parasites go, since they differ quite a bit from humans (so stuff that kills fungi is not going to kill humans).

Fungi are a heck of a lot closer to humans then most things that cause us trouble. The simple fact that they are eukaryotes means that their cells share a lot of molecular similarity with our cells. This makes antifungal some of the more toxic drugs out there. Antiparisite drugs that are going after non-epidermal/non-GI parisites are generally extreamly nasty (If you don't have to absorb the drug for it to be effective it doesn't really matter how nasty it is). The fact that the hypothetical parasite could be on the 'brain' side of the blood-brain barrier could also make it more difficult to attack.

qetzal
Posts: 862
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 12:54 pm UTC

Re: Fungal Parasites! (Help please?)

Postby qetzal » Sat May 23, 2009 12:21 am UTC

I think Seraph's point is that lots of drugs don't readily cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB). That's part of why neurological conditions like Parkinsons and Alzheimers are more difficult to treat.

If a fungus were actually growing in the brain, yet the BBB remained essentially intact, it might be inaccessible to antifungal drugs that might otherwise be effective. That assumes the BBB could remain intact or re-form after being penetrated by the fungus. I have no idea if that's realistic.

achan1058
Posts: 1783
Joined: Sun Nov 30, 2008 9:50 pm UTC

Re: Fungal Parasites! (Help please?)

Postby achan1058 » Sat May 23, 2009 12:31 am UTC

One of the thing I should caution you is not to be too caught up in the realistic details. There are many sci-fi novels/movies/games out there that have major scientific flaws, but doesn't stop them from becoming great stories.

User avatar
Cynwulf
Posts: 208
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 9:03 pm UTC
Location: California

Re: Fungal Parasites! (Help please?)

Postby Cynwulf » Sat May 23, 2009 1:24 am UTC

achan1058 wrote:One of the thing I should caution you is not to be too caught up in the realistic details. There are many sci-fi novels/movies/games out there that have major scientific flaws, but doesn't stop them from becoming great stories.

This.

As a nerd who has read lots of good (and bad) fiction, I have found that a clever author will always provide ample details to discuss a phenomenon, but never actually explain the mechanism. The knowledgeable reader will hear the correct words to satisfy them and suspension of disbelief will be attained.
L'homme est libre au moment qu'il veut l'être. | Man is free at the instant he wants to be.
- Voltaire

User avatar
smw543
Posts: 1248
Joined: Thu Oct 23, 2008 4:45 am UTC
Location: Orlando, Florida

Re: Fungal Parasites! (Help please?)

Postby smw543 » Sat May 23, 2009 3:17 am UTC

Cynwulf wrote:
achan1058 wrote:One of the thing I should caution you is not to be too caught up in the realistic details. There are many sci-fi novels/movies/games out there that have major scientific flaws, but doesn't stop them from becoming great stories.
This.

As a nerd who has read lots of good (and bad) fiction, I have found that a clever author will always provide ample details to discuss a phenomenon, but never actually explain the mechanism. The knowledgeable reader will hear the correct words to satisfy them and suspension of disbelief will be attained.
smw543 wrote:One thing I want to point out, however, is that this is meant to be soft science fiction, in the sense that it's main concern is with the characters rather than the science. Basically, while things like Charlie's comment about immunity are helpful (and appreciated :D), they probably won't end up in the story since the narrator isn't particularly well-versed in science.
Way ahead of you. The rules of science fiction are actually very similar to the rules of "literary" fiction: don't explain why things are, just present them in a way that the reader can infer. My main concern is to have information I can make sure I don't contradict. (Simplified example: I obviously won't mention calculations for the rate at which an object falls, but they'd still be necessary so I don't end up saying that it took some guy two seconds to fall from a mile-high cliff.)
Spoiler:
LE4dGOLEM wrote:Now you know the difference between funny and sad.
Ubik wrote:But I'm too fond of the penis to let it go.
gmalivuk wrote:If you didn't want people to 'mis'understand you, then you probably should have tried saying something less stupid.

User avatar
PM 2Ring
Posts: 3713
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:19 pm UTC
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Fungal Parasites! (Help please?)

Postby PM 2Ring » Sat May 23, 2009 7:07 am UTC

The rules of science fiction are actually very similar to the rules of "literary" fiction: don't explain why things are, just present them in a way that the reader can infer.

Indeed. One way to make this work smoothly is to first write a background essay or story to develop your ideas and just pretend that that essay is "common knowledge" to the experts in your story's world. Virtually none of the text from that work actually makes it into the final story.

SF writer Roger Zelazny often used this technique, especially in his short stories, to give his characters some pre-existing history. It makes the characters feel much more authentic & individual. He published one of these "back stories" in a book that was a collection of his stories & essays on writing.

Seraph
Posts: 343
Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2007 4:51 pm UTC

Re: Fungal Parasites! (Help please?)

Postby Seraph » Sat May 23, 2009 11:02 am UTC

qetzal wrote:I think Seraph's point is that lots of drugs don't readily cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB). That's part of why neurological conditions like Parkinsons and Alzheimers are more difficult to treat.

If a fungus were actually growing in the brain, yet the BBB remained essentially intact, it might be inaccessible to antifungal drugs that might otherwise be effective. That assumes the BBB could remain intact or re-form after being penetrated by the fungus. I have no idea if that's realistic.

Yeah, that's what I was refering. The body is very picky about what it will let into the CNS spaces.

User avatar
ssbookyu123
Posts: 124
Joined: Sun May 17, 2009 3:26 am UTC

Re: Fungal Parasites! (Help please?)

Postby ssbookyu123 » Sun May 24, 2009 2:46 am UTC

I dont know much about fungi but the ending could be like a a house pet has the fungus and is spreading it after every one thinkes its gone.

User avatar
Quizatzhaderac
Posts: 1798
Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2008 5:28 pm UTC
Location: Space Florida

Re: Fungal Parasites! (Help please?)

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Sun May 24, 2009 4:31 pm UTC

About behavioral effects:

The fungus can also extrude psychiatric drugs. Either by design or coincidence ( 'shrooms as a natural example).

For unintended/random effects I'd suggest either depression, mania (so many causes affect those two), hallucination, or brain inflammation (which causes many of rabies' behavioral symptoms).
The thing about recursion problems is that they tend to contain other recursion problems.

User avatar
smw543
Posts: 1248
Joined: Thu Oct 23, 2008 4:45 am UTC
Location: Orlando, Florida

Re: Fungal Parasites! (Help please?)

Postby smw543 » Wed Jun 03, 2009 5:11 am UTC

You people are incredibly awesome. Now that I'm done with my first story, I can get back to this one. It should be ready within a couple weeks (I may be back with more questions.) Mark your calendars!

@PM 2Ring: By the way, did anything of interest come up on that other forum?
Spoiler:
LE4dGOLEM wrote:Now you know the difference between funny and sad.
Ubik wrote:But I'm too fond of the penis to let it go.
gmalivuk wrote:If you didn't want people to 'mis'understand you, then you probably should have tried saying something less stupid.

User avatar
PM 2Ring
Posts: 3713
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:19 pm UTC
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Fungal Parasites! (Help please?)

Postby PM 2Ring » Fri Jun 05, 2009 10:48 am UTC

smw543 wrote:@PM 2Ring: By the way, did anything of interest come up on that other forum?

Not a lot, but here's a link if you're curious. The thread has a link to a YouTube clip of an ant & various other insects that have been attacked by cordyceps (courtesy of the BBC "Planet Earth" Attenborough documentary series: "The Private Life of Plants". ), including time-lapse footage of the cordyceps fruiting body erupting from the head of the ant.

OTOH, the forumite who posted the cordyceps photo has now been inspired to look for & photograph other interesting fungi in her area.

User avatar
smw543
Posts: 1248
Joined: Thu Oct 23, 2008 4:45 am UTC
Location: Orlando, Florida

Re: Fungal Parasites! (Help please?)

Postby smw543 » Sat Jun 06, 2009 4:41 am UTC

The Planet Earth segment was actually what originally inspired the idea. It was just so beautiful and strangely horrifying that I knew I had to do something with it.

Also, I like how that discussion turned from creepy fungus to VLC media player.
Spoiler:
LE4dGOLEM wrote:Now you know the difference between funny and sad.
Ubik wrote:But I'm too fond of the penis to let it go.
gmalivuk wrote:If you didn't want people to 'mis'understand you, then you probably should have tried saying something less stupid.

User avatar
PM 2Ring
Posts: 3713
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:19 pm UTC
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Fungal Parasites! (Help please?)

Postby PM 2Ring » Sat Jun 06, 2009 4:51 am UTC

smw543 wrote:The Planet Earth segment was actually what originally inspired the idea. It was just so beautiful and strangely horrifying that I knew I had to do something with it.

Also, I like how that discussion turned from creepy fungus to VLC media player.

Comparing other media players to cordyceps is obvious, in retrospect. :)

The Self Service Science Forum can be a fun place. The rather ancient format makes it more like a cross between a chatroom & a forum, so sometimes discussion can get quite lively. Unfortunately, the lack of participating moderators means that things can get out of hand when certain topics arise, and it's rather hard to get rid of trolls.

Brwagur
Posts: 81
Joined: Sat May 09, 2009 12:51 am UTC

Re: Fungal Parasites! (Help please?)

Postby Brwagur » Tue Jun 16, 2009 3:32 am UTC

just as far as dramatic effect is concerned, even though having the fruiting body burst forth from the eye sockets is more gruesome, would it not be more dramatic to have it emerge from the victim's spinal column, just like the ant in the picture? i can imagine a person lying on the ground, undergoing some sort of tetanic contraction, while a mushroom tears out through the back of his shirt.
That there is an 80's cell. See, it's got plasma legwarmers.


Return to “Science”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 14 guests