‘Zombie fungus’ from ‘The Last of Us’ spotted in Istanbul forest
Researchers recently came across a rare mushroom called Cordyceps militaris, a species of fungus known also as the “zombie mushroom,” in the Samandıra Forest on the Asian side of Istanbul.
The “zombie mushroom” has become the subject of curiosity worldwide with the release of the world phenomena “The Last of Us” series.
Natural mushroom researcher Naim Güleç, who came across the cordyceps militaris mushroom in the Samandıra Forest of Istanbul during research, and mycologist Selime Semra Erol, who conducts academic research on mushrooms used for medical purposes, told Anadolu Agency (AA) about the lesser known details related to the mushroom.
Erol is working on his doctoral studies on medicinal mushrooms at Düzce University and has been conducting academic studies on medicinal mushrooms, their production and medicinal effects for the last five years. She explained that cordyceps has had an important place in Chinese traditional medicine for thousands of years due to its pharmacological properties and that the mushroom family it belongs to is more than 400 years old. She also noted that it is the genus with the most varieties in its species.
Stating that each mushroom species of the cordyceps genus is parasitic fungi that targets different insects, including caterpillars and pine processionary pupa, Erol said, “What makes this mushroom important is that it has been used as a source of healing in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years.”
Additionally, Erol also noted that the fungus grows in high altitudes in the Himalayas and Tibet, and is consumed as food, especially in India and China. Elaborating that the most important part of the fungus is its cordyceps substance, Erol said that the mushroom contains active substances and compounds used in the treatment of kidney and liver diseases.