Ophiocordyceps is a genus of fungi within the family Ophiocordycipitaceae.[2] The widespread genus, first described scientifically by British mycologist Tom Petch in 1931,[3] contains about 140 species that grow on insects.[4] Anamorphic genera that correspond with Ophiocordyceps species are Hirsutella, Hymenostilbe, Isaria, Paraisaria, and Syngliocladium.[5]

Ophiocordyceps unilateralis.png
Dead ants infected with Ophiocordyceps unilateralis
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Fungi
Division: Ascomycota
Class: Sordariomycetes
Order: Hypocreales
Family: Ophiocordycipitaceae
Genus: Ophiocordyceps
Petch (1931)
Type species
Ophiocordyceps blattae
(Petch) Petch (1931)

Cordycepioideus Stifler (1941)

One species complex, Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, is known for its parasitism on ants, in which it alters the behavior of the ants in such a way as to propagate itself more effectively, killing the ant and then growing its fruiting bodies from the ant's head and releasing its spores.[6][7][8] A 48-million-year-old fossil of an ant in the death grip of Ophiocordyceps unilateralis was discovered in Germany.[9]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Ophiocordyceps Petch 1931". MycoBank. International Mycological Association. Retrieved 2011-07-19.
  2. ^ Lumbsch TH, Huhndorf SM (December 2007). "Outline of Ascomycota – 2007". Myconet. Chicago, USA: The Field Museum, Department of Botany. 13: 1–58.
  3. ^ Petch T. (1931). "Notes on entomogenous fungi". Transactions of the British Mycological Society. 16 (1): 55–75. doi:10.1016/S0007-1536(31)80006-3.
  4. ^ Kirk PM, Cannon PF, Minter DW, Stalpers JA (2008). Dictionary of the Fungi (10th ed.). Wallingford, UK: CABI. p. 483. ISBN 978-0-85199-826-8.
  5. ^ Sung G-H, Hywel-Jones NL, Sung J-M, Luangsa-ard JJ, Shrestha B, Spatafora JW (2007). "Phylogenetic classification of Cordyceps and the clavicipitaceous fungi". Studies in Mycology. 57: 5–59. doi:10.3114/sim.2007.57.01. PMC 2104736. PMID 18490993.
  6. ^ Bhanoo SN (24 August 2010). "In Fossilized Leaf, Clues to a Zombie Ant". The New York Times.
  7. ^ Zimmer C (24 October 2019). "After This Fungus Turns Ants Into Zombies, Their Bodies Explode". The New York Times.
  8. ^ Evans HC, Elliot SL, Hughes DP (March 2011). "Hidden diversity behind the zombie-ant fungus Ophiocordyceps unilateralis: four new species described from carpenter ants in Minas Gerais, Brazil". PLOS ONE. 6 (3): e17024. Bibcode:2011PLoSO...617024E. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0017024. PMC 3047535. PMID 21399679.
  9. ^ Hughes, David P.; Wappler, Torsten; Labandeira, Conrad C. (2011-02-23). "Ancient death-grip leaf scars reveal ant–fungal parasitism". Biology Letters. 7 (1): 67–70. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2010.0521. PMC 3030878. PMID 20719770.

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