Science

This parasite drugs its hosts with the psychedelic chemical in shrooms

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. And at some point during this work, it dawned on Kasson that he was working with illicit substances. Psilocybin, in particular, is a Schedule I drug, and researchers who study it need a permit from the Drug Enforcement Administration. “I thought: Oh, crap,” he says. “Then I thought: OH CRAP. The DEA is going to come in here, tase me, and confiscate my flying saltshakers [infected cicadas] with .” He sent them an email. “This is … interesting,” read the initial response. “You have to understand that this is not something we normally get emails about.” After some discussion, the agency decided that no permit was required, since the drug is found in such small quantities within the cicadas, and since Kasson had no plans for concentrating it.​

Original Article (The Atlantic):
 This parasite drugs its hosts with the psychedelic chemical in shrooms
Artwork Fair Use: Public Domain

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