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Cordyceps ophioglossoides
Cordyceps ophioglossoides
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Fungi
Subkingdom: Dikarya
Phylum: Ascomycota
Subphylum: Pezizomycotina
Class: Sordariomycetes
Subclass: Hypocreomycetidae
Order: Hypocreales
Family: Clavicipitaceae
Genus: Cordyceps

C. bassiana (Bals.-Criv.)
C. gunnii
C. ophioglossoides
C. sinensis
C. subsessilis (Petch)
C. unilateralis

Cordyceps is a genus of ascomycete (Sac Fungi) fungi that includes about 400 described species. All Cordyceps species are endoparasitoids, mainly on insects and other arthropods (they are thus entomopathogenic fungi); a few are parasitic on other fungi. The best known species of the genus is Cordyceps sinensis[1], first recorded as yartsa gunbu in Tibet in the 15th Century [2]. Cordyceps sinensis, known in English commonly as caterpillar fungus is a precious ingredient in oriental medicines, such as Traditional Chinese Medicines. [3] and Traditional Tibetan Medicine.

If a Cordyceps fungus attacks a host, the mycelium invades and eventually replaces the host tissue, while the elongated fruiting body (stroma) may be cylindrical, branched, or of complex shape. The stroma bears many small, flask-shaped perithecia that contain the asci. These in turn contain the thread-like ascospores, which usually break into fragments and are presumably infective.

Some Cordyceps species are able to affect the behavior of their insect host; Cordyceps unilateralis for instance causes ants to climb a plant and attach there before they die, assuring maximal distribution of the spores from the fruiting body that sprouts out of the dead insect's body.[4]

The genus has a worldwide distribution and most of the approximately 400 species[5] have been described from Asia (notably China, Japan, Korea and Thailand). Cordyceps species are particularly abundant and diverse in humid temperate and tropical forests.

The genus has many anamorphs (asexual states), of which Beauveria (possibly including Beauveria bassiana, Metarhizium, and Isaria) are the better known, since these have been used in biological control of insect pests.

Some Cordyceps species are sources of biochemicals with interesting biological and pharmacological properties[6], like cordycepin; the anamorph of Cordyceps subsessilis (Tolypocladium inflatum) was the source of cyclosporin — a drug helpful in human organ transplants, as it suppresses the immune system (Immunosuppressive drug). [7]

Cordyceps sinensis (vegetable caterpillar), mostly whole dried choice specimens.


[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Holliday, John; Cleaver, Matt; (2008). "Medicinal Value of the Caterpillar Fungi Species of the Genus Cordyceps (Fr.) Link (Ascomycetes). A Review" (PDF). International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms (New York: Begell House) 10 (3): 219. ISSN 1521-9437. 
  2. ^ Winkler, D. 2008a. Yartsa Gunbu (Cordyceps sinensis) and the Fungal Commodification of the Rural Economy in Tibet AR. Economic Botany 63.2: 291-306
  3. ^ Halpern, Georges M. (2007). Healing Mushrooms. Square One Publishers. pp. 65–86. ISBN 978-0757001963. 
  4. ^ "Neurophilosophy: Brainwashed by a parasite". 2006-11-20. Retrieved on 2008-07-02. 
  5. ^ Sung, Gi-Ho; Nigel L. Hywel-Jones, Jae-Mo Sung, J. Jennifer Luangsa-ard, Bhushan Shrestha and Joseph W. Spatafora (2007). "Phylogenetic classification of Cordyceps and the clavicipitaceous fungi". Stud Mycol 57 (1): 5–59. 
  6. ^ Holliday, John; Cleaver, Phillip; Lomis-Powers, Megan; Patel, Dinesh; (2004). "Analysis of Quality and Techniques for Hybridization of Medicinal Fungus Cordyceps sinensis (Berk.)Sacc. (Ascomycetes)" (PDF). International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms (New York: Begell House) 6 (2): 152. ISSN 1521-9437. 
  7. ^ Holliday, John (2005), "Cordyceps", in Coates, Paul M. (PDF), Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements, 1, Marcel Dekker, pp. 4 of Cordyceps Chapter 

[edit] Further reading

  • D Bensky, A Gamble, S Clavey, E Stoger, L Lai Bensky. 2006. Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica (3rd ed.). Eastland Press.
  • Y Kobayasi. 1941. The genus Cordyceps and its allies. Science Reports of the Tokyo Bunrika Daigaku, Sect. B 5:53-260.
  • EB Mains. 1957. Species of Cordyceps parasitic on Elaphomyces. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 84:243-251.
  • EB Mains. 1958. North American entomogenous species of Cordyceps. Mycologia 50:169-222.
  • SS Tzean, LS Hsieh, WJ Wu. 1997. Atlas of entomopathogenic fungi from Taiwan. Taiwan, Council of Agriculture, Executive Yuan.

[edit] External links

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