Is Fungus The Next Doomsday Killer?

Infected person stuck to the wall and completely transformed by Cordyceps fungus.

HBO’s current hit series, “The Last of Us,” debuted on Jan. 15. In it, creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann portray a beautiful nightmare where an elaborate network of thriving parasitic fungi cause a global pandemic.

How real is this fictional show when compared with reality?

There is a genuine threat from fungi, but they provide many benefits as well. There are hundreds of thousands of fungi species, 600 or so discovered in the Cordyceps genus as of today. First discovered in China and used as medicine, it was believed by an emperor that digesting infected silkworms held the key to a longer life.

The history we know of Cordyceps dates back as far as the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and is mentioned in the Huang Di Neijing, otherwise known as the Chinese bible of medicine. Now, Ophiocordyceps Sinensis is specifically used for cancer treatments and a wide range of ailments in Chinese medicine, which is currently rare due to the difficulty in cultivation.

In addition, it’s because of fungi that we have everyday essentials such as penicillin, cheese, beer, and other commonly used products. Fungus also has a living cell structure, unicellular and multicellular, compared to a virus that is not living. So it needs a food source, and for the particular species mentioned in the show, insects are the primary source of nourishment.

That’s not to say that reptiles and mammals can’t become host to fungi because they can, indeed, just not by Cordyceps currently. Arthrobotrys is a predator of nematode worms. By snaring and trapping them, hyphae begin to grow through the worm and consume it from within. So overall, besides getting sick with a range of symptoms, the zombie-like mind control is more fiction than reality.

According to Biology Professor Rikki Edelman, certified Horticulturist and member of the Mycological Society of San Francisco, “even if there were to be a Cordyceps fungus attacking a human body, it would have a hard time breaching the internal walls and bones required to reach the human brain and numerous systems it would need to infect which is all highly unlikely. The show depicts what looks to be an amalgamation of fungi as it is growing everywhere, on the walls of buildings and through people.”

For this to happen in people first, according to Chabot College Microbiologist Robert Cattolica, who holds a (Ph.D.) in Pharmacology and Toxicology as well as a (BA) in Molecular Cell Biology, “there would need to be a rare crossover event, where the reason would be unknown to science. This crossover event would be something like going from an ant to a wasp or a small mammal.”

In the show, it is implied that climate change was the culprit in forcing adaptation to a warming planet where the fungus can then withstand the temperatures of the human body. This factor is stated as “being a real possibility where climate change and deforestation can destroy species or a food source and create the need for a new one. This, however is very unlikely in Cordyceps as it has evolved alongside its food source, which is mainly different insect species. This would take numerous exposure events on the part of humans to provide the opportunity for adaptation in the body. Not to mention the amount of tissue the fungus has to infect which is elaborate and extensive compared to the body of an ant.

“It would be more likely to infect a certain area of the body like the liver or mucus membrane. Spores being the optimal delivery mechanism and more infectious through ingestion compared to the biting depicted on the show” said Professor Cottalica.

Which fungi are currently dangerous to humans?

“The Cordyceps in the show seems to ignore animals and lacks the spore element that is extremely vital to fungus reproduction,” said Professor Edelman. The Cordyceps Militaris Fungus hijacks the body of ants mainly, filling it with a biomass of mycelium. It is a gruesome sight close up, the ant is flooded with chemicals and compelled to climb to a great height where it will perch and die until the fungus has fully formed and prepared to spore beginning the next life cycle.

In humans, spores are deadly and can cause long term respiratory illness or acute respiratory failure. This fungus is more commonly known as mold which can be found just about anywhere. More alarming is the 2009 discovery of Candida Auris which grows as yeast and is anti-fungal resistant. This fungus has climbed in infection rate, spread to several continents and is currently being tracked by the CDC. This fungus can cause illness and death in horrific ways, especially for people with immune deficiencies. Climate change is having a huge impact on the future of fungi, where the line that separates humans as hosts is starting to disappear. “Resistance is old in the fungi’s defense because antibiotics are used by fungus at war with each other to kill,” says Professor Cattolica.

Candida is super communicable in the form of spore dispersal which can be a problem for patient treatment in hospitals. There is even the possibility of being mistreated as infection from Candida can be hard to identify and made worse. Then there is Claviceps Purpurea which is an Ergot fungus that can cause hallucinations, nausea, vomiting, gangrene, spasms, convulsions, unconsciousness, and death. It grows on the ears of rye and can contaminate grain and seeds. This fungus was believed to influence the madness behind the Salem Witch Trials. These are just some of the known fungi dangerous to humans as science is still discovering unknown species and unseen behaviors from the fungi kingdom.

Can this fungus outbreak be engineered?

Humans have been known to experiment on just about everything and fungus is not exclusive. Anthrax and Smallpox are good examples although not directly fungi related. “If I was a mad scientist, I would bet on a virus over fungi as it is already designed to kill humans by nature. There needs to be significant breakthroughs and human experimentation that would need to take place for this type of engineering,” said Professor Cattolica. There are examples of this on a commercial scale as most of the safe products in one form or another can be purchased and used for pest control.

Cordyceps fungus can be used for insects and Arthrobotrys for nematodes. Because of the super combined elements of the show’s fungus, it has mixed characteristics when it comes to the infected people we have seen so far. For instance, the fungi located on the split heads, arms and necks of it’s victims are more shelf-like. According to Professor Edelman, “they look more related to the fungus Ganoderma, known as Reishi, which has healing properties for humans including cancer. This fungus can be very deadly for trees causing root and stem rot, yet safe everyday products are derived from this fungus and taken directly by humans for medicinal purposes. If you drink a coffee, you don’t become a coffee.”

Edible mushrooms are used on a daily basis for cooking or your pizza toppings. So the jury is still out on future possibilities, “as there are still so many functions never observed by science in the fungi kingdom,” said Professor Cattolica. Overall the show is really good from the opinion of these biology professors and brings a much-needed interest to the world of biology and climate change.

HBO’s “The Last of Us” show details

"The Last of Us," key art/main promotional material.

No spoilers: “The Last of Us” depicts a zombie-like outbreak caused by a Cordyceps fungus that initially grows with substrates in flower, grain, and bread factories. It stars Pedro Pascal as Joel and Bella Ramsey as Ellie portraying an unlikely pair forced to come together by chance. Joel must get Ellie to a destination in this post-apocalyptic world safely. The show currently sits at 97% on Rotten Tomatoes and has already been renewed for a second season, announced after the airing of only the second episode. Airing on Sunday evenings, becoming successful overnight, the show now boasts a viewership of twenty-two million and growing, making it the second biggest premiere for HBO in a decade.

Chabot Beats Skyline in Men’s Basketball

The Chabot men’s basketball team won 104-87 against Skyline on Jan. 25.

Sophomores Jaiden Rivera and David Hector were the two Chabot players that scored the most points during the game scoring 19 and 18 points, respectively. Freshman starter Diggy Winbush also stood out by scoring 15 points and getting four assists. 

Chabot men’s basketball player David Hector, number 20, at the free throw line making both shots with two Chabot teammates and three Skyline opponents.

After the game, David Hector and Jaiden Rivera — numbers 20 and 32, respectively — agreed that their overall defense could be improved going into the next game. 

As for their individual performances, the players were almost overly critical of themselves — even despite winning the game. Freshman shooting guard Zachary Broadous, number 13, stated that he felt like he performed “below average” for what he usually does; however, he was hopeful that he’d perform better in their next games. 

Broadous added, “next game, I would make sure to slow down, hit my shots, and be more aggressive — both offensively and defensively.” 

Although they may have seemed somewhat disappointed in their performances, all of the players I spoke with said they felt confident going into the game. Hector said, “I was just worried about winning.” 

Since the Jan. 25 game, the men’s basketball team has played one game against Foothill College, in which they won 93-87. 

Keenan Mcmiller, the head coach for the men’s basketball team, stated that the team’s success could be attributed to many things. He made sure to highlight qualities like the team’s ability to encourage each other, their willingness to share the ball when the offense is in, and only a few turnovers as the main reasons they have been so successful this season. 

Another quality that Coach McMiller emphasized was support among the teammates and the community. With the team being undefeated at home, including their win in last night’s game, it’s clear that the Chabot community’s support significantly impacts their performance. Coach McMiller added that the team was “getting there,” especially since they’ve been continuously winning games. 

Chabot students should look forward to the basketball games this season, argues McMiller, because the players play with pride and determination — something that students can relate to. 

As far as team support, the members of the men’s basketball team are all extremely close, acting more like a family than a team. This is in large part due to the frequent preseason trips that the team had the opportunity to go on, which doubled as bonding experiences for them. Taking trips along the coast, from Los Angeles to schools up north, helped the team learn to adapt & work with each other on and off the court — and boosted team morale. 

Support and bonding aside, the team has earned much of its success simply because they work hard. With three-hour practices every day, it is no surprise that the team is as strong and in sync as they are. 

This strength can also be seen off the court as they devote their downtime to their academic studies. For Coach McMiller and the rest of the basketball team, academic success is critical. 

Student-athletes are expected to maintain at least a 2.5 grade-point average and have to participate in four hours of study hall per week in the learning connection center, as well as turning in weekly progress reports. 

The learning connection center located in building 100 is an excellent resource for all students here at Chabot, according to Coach McMiller, and is one of the things that sets Chabot apart from other community colleges. The fact that the learning centers aren’t oversaturated and that the learning connection community constantly strives to serve students and athletes better makes Chabot special.

The Great Shakeout Canceled

The Great Shakeout, the annual earthquake preparedness drill, was canceled on Oct. 20. Chabot College has done the Great Shakeout for many years, but this is the first the school has canceled the event. 

Due to the past few years of the coronavirus pandemic, the school has not many staff and students on campus. Along with the construction taking place around campus with the Paths to Parking project and the public address system stopped working. 

With a mixture of factors of construction, the pandemic, and electronic malfunction with the public address system, it was ultimately decided the Great Shakeout was canceled. 

“We feel pretty confident we’ll be able to circle back around some point next year. In the spring, hopefully. If we don’t get to it in the spring, we’re going to get back in business and we’ll do the ShakeOut for sure,” said Vice President Dale Wagoner.

Barangay’s Parol Making!

Now that Thanksgiving has past and the Christmas holidays are around the corner, the Barangay Chabot Club held a parol making event on Nov. 29 in the Event Center.

Parol making is a Filipino tradition that includes making parols out of bamboo sticks and paper into the shape of a star. They are illuminated with candles or battery operated lights.

Photo taken by Maika Jeciel


“Parol making is creating a Filipino lantern star that is commonly held outside or inside of people’s homes to celebrate Christmas,” said club president Maika Jeciel. “It symbolizes the three kings who went to see Jesus at the time of his birth.”

President of the Barangay Chabot Club, Maika Jeciel, presented a Disney animation on the parol star and Christmas holiday and then a tutorial on how to make a parol lantern. Many attendees were of Filipino or Asian descent and came to partake in the activities and socialize.

Barangay Chabot is one of the clubs MOVEMENT learning supports for Asian American and Pacific Islander students coming to Chabot College. Other clubs MOVEMENT supports are Association of China, Punjabi Club, Vietnamese-American Association, and many more.

“I enjoyed celebrating the culture with our fellow club members since Christmas is a big occasion in the Philippines. Being able to share and create a parol means a lot not just to the officers and the club but also us as Filipinos. We hope we have more activities like this!” said club secretary Stephanie Cornelio.

“I enjoyed most the club hosting a parol making event, the idea of being able to share this important tradition in the Philippines, with the community here at Barangay Chabot, that not only educates our community, but bonds us,” said Jeciel.

The Midnight Club Review

Netflix’s newest show, created by Leah Fong and Mike Flanagan, The Midnight Club, was released on Oct. 7. The show is about eight terminally ill young adults that reside in Brightcliffe Home hospice and tell haunting stories every night. When one of them is near death, they make a pact to try to communicate from beyond the grave.

Starring Iman Benson, Igby Rigney, Sauriyan Sapkota, Aya Furukawa, Ruth Codd, William Chris Sumpter, Annarah Cymone, and Adia.

The show starts off with Ilonka, played by Iman Benson, who is diagnosed with thyroid cancer and enrolls into Brightcliffe Hospice in hopes of finding a cure for her illness. She arrives at the hospice having learned of its previous past of being a home to a cult and a miracle patient Julia Jayne. Soon, she finds the other patients are in a club where they tell scary stories called the Midnight Club.

Flanagan’s The Midnight Club is adapted from Christopher Pike’s book The Midnight Club released in 1994. Flanagan is known for taking inspiration from previous works and turning it into terrific horror shows.

As someone who has watched Flanagan’s other shows such as The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting of Bly Manor, and Midnight Mass, I was excited to see what The Midnight Club would hold. I was excited to see what jumpscares or hauntings would be at the hospice where the eight teens resided.

The show did not reach my expectations on how Flanagan’s prior work did well with the horror element. While I think the show is a good premise with telling scary stories in the dark, I was expecting more ghosts and scares.

What I did enjoy the most was the connection between all the characters, they all knew they were on borrowed time and made the most of relationships with love and care for each other. The episode where Anya, played by Ruth Codd, was passing away made me cry. They all joined together to be with her in her final moments.

I had more questions than answers when I finished the show. For example, what gave Ilonka visions to visit Brightcliffe Hospice or why did Kevin, played by Igby Rigney, never mention he was sleep walking until the last episode? I found out recently that Flanagan is going to have another season for The Midnight Club, so hopefully my questions will be answered and be more engaging.

The Bay Bay Cafe: A Chabot College Original Sitcom

By: Mike Leonor

Entertainment Writer

Are you looking for something new to watch that isn’t a limited series having lawyers twerk for your amusement? Catch the original sitcom that was produced, written, and shot by your own Chabot staff and students. The full play was directed and showrun by Chabot professor Linda Amayo-Hassan. Along with the students in the play, Professor Linda has written about the life of college students all hanging out at their own fictional coffee shop named “The Bay Bay Cafe.” 

This production is 3 episodes with a full star-studded cast. It showcases its own original characters facing the trials of college academic life and how it affects their personal lives. All the staff at “The Bay Bay Cafe” are students that play Chabot College students from their interpersonal relationships to the friendships they make at this cafe. Each character has a story and lesson that may be similar to your own experience or journey.  Stories Co-written by the students here at the school performed and acted so you can vicariously see and feel what they may have experienced.

This series sitcom project took a whole 6 weeks from the writers room all the way to filming production. “The Bay Bay Cafe” crew was outstanding in producing and creating something within the limited time schedules. To produce this sitcom at a televised level it took the work and effort of both the Theater department and Television studio here at Chabot to revamp the space of the 1200 buildings small theater to look like a fullfeldge off-site television studio.

Professor Linda Amayo-Hassan stated “ Sujoy Sarkar (Senior Technician) and I are trying to do more filming and projects with the theater and Television station. Prior to this work we had already done podcasts about theater two or three different podcasts or recordings that just seemed to make up the stories for this play and other projected works. This opened up an opportunity for me to take a more active role in the writing, overseeing, and carefully shaping the work.” From podcast dialog to being written down as a script from finally being shot and produced it is nice to see a project go off the ground floor from being an idea and becoming a full fledged recorded sitcom.

The people that helped produce this project want you as a student to hear their stories about academic life as a student living here in the bay area. They also want you to understand an international student’s perspective making their way through a new environment. This sitcom is the first performance by some of our Chabot students so make sure to show some support and watch “The Bay Bay Cafe” when it premieres  on November 24 and 25 on Youtube or on Comcast Channel 27.

Soccer Season Canceled

This year both Chabot College’s men’s and women’s soccer seasons were canceled on Sep. 20.

Athletic Director Jeff Druin explained why the season was shut down before it could begin. “For the women’s team, they did not have enough players to field a team as for the men’s team, we had 15 players, which is enough to compete. When we ran their eligibility, we discovered that six student-athletes were academically ineligible, reducing the roster number to nine eligible athletes, which is not enough to field a team.”

Jeff continued, “After having a conversation with Dr. Cooks, Vice President of Instructions, we made the decision to give the team some time to fix the situation. Shortly after, we had to make the difficult decision to cancel the season.”

Photography by Mike Leonor

 Student athlete Christopher Mercado shared his feelings regarding the season’s cancellation. “I think it’s sad. We put our all into this, and it was just taken from us out of nowhere. We’re really hoping there’s a better future for the sport at this college.” 

In addition to the season’s cancellation, the men’s longtime soccer coach, Tony Igwe, announced that he would be stepping down from his position and retiring. “I just put in my resignation today. I’m gonna miss it. I just talked to the players. I will miss them.”

Jeff shared his thoughts about Tony’s departure. “The week he was hired as the soccer coach was the same week that I started in a full-time position here at Chabot. We worked together for many years. 22 years, to be exact.”

Jeff added, “Tony has inspired a lot of young soccer players. He has shown great care for all the student-athletes that played for him. I hope this next chapter in his life will be good for him, and I wish him nothing but the best.”

Tony hopes that the athletic department will be able to add more support for the next head coach. “They just need to be behind them. Go to local schools and recruit, which I used to do. They just need to help the soccer department as much as they help Football and Baseball.” As for the vacant coaching position, Jeff explained that the department is hard at work in identifying new candidates to fill the role for the next year’s season.

Looking back at his time at Chabot, Tony is very grateful for what he was able to accomplish with his student-athletes and the bonds that he was able to build with them. “I know about five of my players now who have masters and PHDs, and they call me all the time and say, “coach, you remember when you brought me into your office, and you gave me a pep talk? That changed me.”

Tony added, “My job was to see these players move forward in life. I have a bachelors in physical education and I have a master’s in psychology, and I got my coaching credentials. I did everything to make sure that I stood out and that my players would do well. My intentions were always to push them forward toward a four-year university and a possible scholarship to play D1 soccer.”

Tony retires with an incredible career consisting of representing the Nigerian National Team in the 1968 Olympics, captaining his country during World Cup qualifying matches, and winning three national titles for the University of San Francisco. He also coached at the next level for Stanford University’s women’s soccer team.

Hayward Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

Downtown Hayward hosted their 12th Mariachi Festival on Sep. 29 in honor of Hispanic Heritage month. This family affair brought traditional dances, music, and overall spirit to warm the hearts of Bay Area attendees. 

The festival paid particular homage to Mexico’s Independence Day, Sep. 16, as it connects to a large number of the community’s heritage. 

Three Mariachi bands performed, with Mariachi Mi Tiera Linda giving tribute to the late Mexican musician Vicente Fernandez who passed on Dec. 21, 2021. The band performed Fernandez’s cover of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” singing both in English and Spanish. This song is famously associated with Fernandez and his overall impact on the world of Mariachi.

Young students also performed baile folklórico dances in their brightly colored traditional Mexican dresses. These dances are a mixture of Indigenous, African, and Spanish cultures, with heavy detail in footwork, facial expressions, and particular movements in the long flowy skirts. 

Davida Scott, a teacher at Hayward Adult School, wanted to give back to the young generation of students with a backpack drive at the event. Scott is the founder of Raising Leaders, a series of workshops focusing on “employability skills, financial awareness, career exploration, and educational opportunities.” The California Teachers Association stated on cta.org. 

This particular workshop was a student drive that consisted of 100 free backpacks, school supplies, and dental hygiene kits that Alameda County Supervisor Richard Valle funded. 

The event lasted until nine p.m., with the crowds reluctant to leave. City Councilmember Francisco Zermeño, who hosted the event, thanked everyone in attendance.

National Walk and Roll Day

By: Henry Hincapie

Staff Writer

“Walk and Roll to School Day” is an annual celebration that allows students, families, and caregivers to experience the benefits of exercise while teaching them proper pedestrian and road safety. The Hayward Police Department encourages parents and students to join their classmates and walk bike, or roll to class on Oct. 12. 

Hayward Police Sergeant Tasha DeCosta stated, “We hope this is a fun, rewarding experience for students and community members that shows how important it is for everyone to be safe walking, biking, or rolling.”

Hayward Police Department offers tips for students who walk, bike, or roll to school:

  • Plan your route on roads with sidewalks or paths away from traffic. If there are no sidewalks, walk or ride as far from cars as possible, facing traffic.
  • Use crosswalks, preferably at stop signs or signals. If there are unmarked crosswalks, cross at corners on streets with fewer lanes and lower speed limits.
  • Always look left-right-left before crossing the street. Continue to scan for traffic as you cross the street.
  • Watch for cars entering/leaving driveways or parking spaces.
  • Always wear a helmet when riding or rolling.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Keep the earbud or headphone volume low enough to still hear around you.

On this day, drivers should be extra mindful of the increase in foot and bike traffic and be prepared to stop to accommodate the school buses and children making their way to school. As always, drivers should watch their speed when in school zones.

In order to track participation and show support for active, healthy, and safe transportation, schools are encouraged to register at walkbiketoschool.org. Here are some Chabot students’ thoughts on whether they plan on participating in this event.

Chabot Student Tony

Tony: “I did hear about this event through my high school. I plan on participating because I already walk or skate to school. It usually takes around 40 minutes to walk here and a lot shorter on my skateboard”

Many students do not plan on participating in this event due to the fact that they don’t have the means to join the event and the walking distance would be too long for them.

Chabot Student Bilal

Bilal: “I have not heard of National Walk and Roll day. I live an hour away and I don’t have a bike because it broke a while ago So, it wouldn’t be convenient.” 

This article has contributions from Mike Leonor and Kennedy Petty

Predator’s Newest Film

The newest film in the Predator series, Prey, was released Aug. 5 as a Hulu original starring Amber Midthunder and Dakota Beavers. Directed by Dan Trachtenberg and written by Patrick Aison, the film is set in the early 18th century in the Great Plains, where a young Comanche woman witnesses the crash landing of a spacecraft and sets out to prove herself as a hunter.

Prey differs from the rest of the Predator series as it predates the original films and consists almost entirely of Native American and First Nation actors and actresses. The casting of this film made it possible for more Indigenous talent to premiere on the big screen.

Naru, played by Amber Midthunder, is a healer who dreams of becoming a distinguished hunter like her older brother, Taabe, played by Dakota Beavers. While pursuing a deer in the forest with her dog, Naru witnesses what looks like a Thunderbird falling from the sky. She takes this as a sign to prove herself. She returns to her village to find out that one of the hunters was taken by a mountain lion. Naru insists on coming along with the search party to help track and provide medical care but soon comes across signs that something alien is out there.

After healing the hunter, she encounters the mountain lion on the tree branch but gets distracted by mysterious sounds and lights and falls, hitting her head. Naru becomes frustrated after her failed attempt to catch the mountain lion. Her brother is successful and is rewarded by the tribe, becoming War Chief. She wanders from her tribe to investigate. Meanwhile, a Predator hunts for a formidable opponent worthy of fighting.

The cinematography was simply beautiful, with panoramic shots of nature and ancient North American landscapes. The use of the landscape really sets the movie’s tone while following Naru’s growth and use of her surroundings.

The introduction of the Predator was epic, showing off his robustness and strength. His weaponry and use of limited technology showed how primitive and powerful the Predator can be without its traditional armor and weapons.

I would say the representation of the Comanche Nation was done well and with love from the people who all worked together on this film. I loved that they showed subtle nods toward the indigenous tribe, from the knowledge of medicine to crafting an arm stretcher out of wood and sticks.

Midthunder’s performance as Naru was refreshing because it differs from previous Predator films. She portrays Naru as a girl relying on her intellect and observation skills and using her surroundings to her advantage. There is no military, no advanced weaponry to eliminate alien creatures. There is just Naru simply being strategic and using her home-field advantage to defeat the Predator.

What surprised me about this movie was the actors did a Comanche dubbed version. I do not think this has ever occurred in a Hollywood film.

“I think this is the best Predator movie I have seen so far. One of the best in the series,” said Dr. Kim Morrison.

“I liked the fact this film wasn’t compared to the original franchise movies. It’s not male-dominated,” said librarian Eugenia Chan.