The flour theory of ‘The Last of Us’ is fulfilled, but only in part

The second chapter confirms one of the most talked about The Last of Us theories since the series began. That the Cordyceps fungus was able to pass to humans through contaminated flour.

In the first episode you see how Joel and Sarah forget or reject various products made with flour. The daughter can’t cook birthday pancakes for her father because there’s no flour left, he forgets to buy the cake at the end of the day, and they both refuse the neighbors’ cookies. A family that, in fact, at night turns out to be infected. It was clear that it was one of the The Last of Us theories with the most weight and it has finally been confirmed after patient zero is shown to us in the second chapter.

For this we travel to Jakarta, where in the first episode Joel’s family hears that some strange altercations are taking place. The origin of these was precisely in the sudden violence of the first infected, which apparently occurred precisely in a flour factory. Now we see that, indeed, of all the The Last of Us theories that had circulated so far, this was the most accurate. But, leaving aside that it fits with the plot of the series, does it make sense, scientifically speaking?

The The Last of Us theories are correct, but is the flour thing realistic?

There are some mushrooms that grow very well on cereals, and therefore on flour. The case of the ergot or ergot (Claviceps purpurea) is especially well known. This is a parasitic fungus that can affect many cereals and other herbaceous plants, although it is especially common for it to infect rye.

Its toxins can cause disease, known as ergotism or fire of San Antonio. It causes hallucinations, convulsions, and arterial contraction that begins with burning extremities but can end with necrosis and the need for amputation. Although isolated cases continue to be detected today, it was much more common in the past, especially in the Middle Ages.

In fact, it is believed that it may have been responsible for the famous Ball of San Vito, in which hundreds of people took to the streets dancing uncontrollably until they fell exhausted. It could have been a phenomenon of collective hysteria, but there are also those who believe that they could not stop moving because of the burning caused by the fungus.

As for Cordyceps, the fungi of this genus mainly affect insects and other arthropods. Therefore, despite the The Last of Us theories, it would not be normal to find them in flour.

The theory of humans as bread

Some of The Last of Us theories about flour and Cordyceps go further and point out that, upon infection, the human body itself acts like bread. That is, it provides the necessary nutrients and temperature for the parasite to proliferate. This has its realistic part and a part that is pure fantasy.

To begin with, the fungi that are used to ferment the dough made with flour and give rise to bread are yeasts. And Cordyceps is not a yeast.

In addition, what happens in the organism of the infected is not a fermentation. Simply, the fungus grows inside, as can be seen under the skin of those affected. This occurs through some structures, known as hyphae, which group together to give rise to another, called mycelium, and can spread underground to explore new places. In the case of the infected in the series, they do not do it under the ground, but inside their body.

Therefore, here the theories in The Last of Us are only partly correct. The humans of the story are not like bread fermented by Cordyceps, however much Cordyceps supposedly arose in flour.

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