Piotr contributed to a collaborative paper in the journal Mycologia exploring the relationships among drug-producing, behavior-manipulating, sexually transmissible pathogenic fungi that attack different cicadas.
Our collaborators from West Virginia University led the study just published in the journal Mycologia exploring the relationships among sexually transmissible pathogenic fungi that attack different species of cicadas:
Macias A.M., Geiser D.M., Stajich J.E., Łukasik P., Veloso C., Bublitz D.C., Berger M.C., Boyce G.R., Hodge K. & Kasson, M.T. (2020). Evolutionary relationships among Massospora spp. (Entomophthorales), obligate pathogens of cicadas. Mycologia, doi: 10.1080/00275514.2020.1742033
Pathogens from the genus Massospora are notorious for producing chemical compounds such as psylocybins [hallucinogens present in magic mushrooms] and amphetamines that increase cicada sexual activity --- even as the cicada's reproductive organs are falling off, replaced by fungal tissue producing infectious spores! You can see it in the Chilean cicada photographed by Piotr, one of the specimens featured in this paper. This is a great example of behavioral manipulation by a pathogen. We now understand more about the diversity of these pathogens.