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What is Mycology & Why Is It Mentioned in The Last of Us

Mycology is the scientific study of fungi, and their practical use in medicine. In real life, Mycological research has led to the groundbreaking development of penicillin and tetracycline.

It is mentioned in The Last of Us as the Cordyceps virus that is causing people to turn into the Infected is directly linked to fungi.

Of course, Mycology is connected and may just hold the answers to Ellie’s shocking secret in The Last of Us.

Cordyceps is a type of parasitic fungi that infects insects. Its mycelium, long strands of fungus, digs into the insect and replaces its tissue.

This is what happens in The Last of Us, except it is happening to humans and not to insects. The tendrils coming from the Infected are the mycelium of the Cordyceps inside the human host.

Cordyceps fungus spreading from the eye of an Infected in The Last of Us
The Cordyceps fungus spreading from the eye of an Infected in The Last of Us

This is why Ibu Ratna, the Mycologist played by Christine Hakim, is brought to inspect the Infected lady at the start of The Last of Us episode 2.

She is a professor of mycology at the University of Indonesia and expert on all things fungi, which includes Cordyceps. Understandably, the Indonesian police believe she will be able to help prevent the spread of the virus.

However, as an expert, she’s aware that once Cordyceps spreads, it is impossible to remove. So, she recommends they bomb the city to kill the infection before it can spread any further.

The inclusion of Mycology in The Last of Us shows a dedication to realism. The showrunners Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann clearly wanted to make the virus seem as real as possible.

In fact, a surprise guest star from episode one is involved in a truly haunting scene in which the virus and the possibility of it infecting humans is explained in great detail.

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