This parasite drugs its hosts with the psychedelic chemical in shrooms [and a crystal meth-like amphetamine]
*”the cicadas walk around as if nothing’s wrong even though a third of their body has fallen off (and they are in the process of dying, while infecting those around them)”
*warning : using psilocybin in combination with amphetamines is NOT recommended. Potential negative side-effects are extreme.
The team took great pains to check that Massospora [pictured above] really does contain these unexpected drugs [psilocybin (a psychedelic) & cathnonine (an amphetamine). They showed that the substances are found only in the infected cicadas and not in the uninfected ones. They found that the fungus has the right genes for making these chemicals, and contains the precursor substances that you’d expect.
Greg Boyce, a member of Kasson’s team, looked at all the chemicals found in the white fungal plugs of the various cicadas. And to his shock, he found that the banger-wings were loaded with psilocybin—the potent hallucinogen found in magic mushrooms. “At first, I thought: There’s absolutely no way,” he says. “It seemed impossible.” After all, no one has ever detected psilocybin in anything other than mushrooms, and those fungi have been evolving separately from Massospora for around 900 million years. “I remember looking over at Greg one night and he had a strange look on his face,” Kasson recalls. “He said, ‘Have you ever heard of cathinone?’” Kasson hadn’t, but a quick search revealed that it’s an amphetamine. It had never been found in a fungus before. Indeed, it was known only from the khat plant that has long been chewed by people from the Middle East and the Horn of Africa. But apparently, cathinone is also produced by Massaspora as it infects periodical cicadas.
Original Article (The Atlantic):
This parasite drugs its hosts with the psychedelic chemical in shrooms
Artwork Fair Use: Matt Kason