Tolypocladium ophioglossoides

Tolypocladium ophioglossoides, also known by two of its better known synonyms Elaphocordyceps ophioglossoides and Cordyceps ophioglossoides and commonly known as the goldenthread cordyceps,[5] is a species of fungus in the family Ophiocordycipitaceae. It is parasitic on fruit bodies of the truffle-like Elaphomyces. The species is considered inedible, but is valued in traditional Chinese medicine.

Tolypocladium ophioglossoides
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Fungi
Division: Ascomycota
Class: Sordariomycetes
Order: Hypocreales
Family: Ophiocordycipitaceae
Genus: Tolypocladium
T. ophioglossoides
Binomial name
Tolypocladium ophioglossoides
(Ehrh.) Quandt, Kepler & Spatafora (2014)[1]
  • Clavaria parasitica Willd. (1787)
  • Sphaeria ophioglossoides J.F.Gmel. (1792)
  • Cordylia ophioglossoides J.F.Gmel. (1818)
  • Cordyceps ophioglossoides (Ehrh.) Link (1833)
  • Xylaria ophioglossoides Grognot (1863)
  • Torrubia ophioglossoides (Ehrh.) Tul. & C.Tul. (1865)
  • Cordyceps parasitica (Willd.) Henn. (1904)
  • Cordyceps ophioglossoides f. cuboides Kobayasi (1960)
  • Cordyceps ophioglossoides f. alba Kobayasi & Shimizu ex Y.J.Yao (1995)
  • Elaphocordyceps ophioglossoides (Ehrh.) G.H.Sung, J.M.Sung & Spatafora (2007)
  • Elaphocordyceps ophioglossoides f. cuboides (Kobayasi) G.H. Sung, J.M.Sung & Spatafora (2007)



This species was first described in 1785 as Sphaeria ophioglossoides by German naturalist Jakob Friedrich Ehrhart.[6]

The specific epithet ophioglossoides, derived from Ancient Greek, means "like a snake's tongue".[7]



T. ophioglossoides falls under the morphological category of earth tongue fungi. Its sporocarps are 2–8 centimetres (343+14 in) long, clavate and simple or rarely branched. Rhizomorphs attach the fruiting body to its host.[8]

Similar species


It is similar to species within the genus including T. capitatum. Other earth tongues typically lack distinctive bumps.[9]

Distribution and habitat


Its geographical distribution is throughout the Northern Hemisphere.[8] It fruits in late summer and fall, often under oak or pine trees because Elaphomyces, its host, prefers those tree species.[8]



The species is considered inedible.[10]



In traditional Chinese medicine, T. ophioglossoides is used as an herbal remedy of hot temperature (sharing phylogenetic branch, genetic material and habitat with other species of that classification)[11] for relieving postmenopausal syndrome in women.[12][13][14]

The mycelium of T. ophioglossoides may protect humans from Alzheimer's disease.[15] Production of intracellular polysaccharides in T. ophioglossoides may explain its medicinal antioxidant properties, used to fight menopause symptoms and neurodegenerative disease.[16]

Model organism


T. ophioglossoides has also been used as a model organism to understand genetic mechanisms that drive transitions from parasitism on insects to truffles. In the lab, secondary metabolite core genes are upregulated when T. ophioglossoides is grown on insect cuticles, but downregulated when grown on species of the genus Elaphomyces.[12]

Bioactive compounds


Because of its beneficial medicinal properties, scientists have begun to conduct research on the genes of T. ophioglossoides to understand secondary metabolite synthesis. T. ophioglossoides produces most notably peptaibiotics and balanol.

T. ophioglossoides produces peptaibiotics via nonribosomal peptide synthetases. Peptaibiotics have antibiotic and antifungal properties.[17]

Balanol is a protein kinase inhibitor which inhibits cancer cells from growing in humans[18] and affects other human disease states, including central nervous system diseases, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, asthma and HIV. T. ophioglossoides has been cultured with genetic modification to produce balanol at higher concentrations.[13]

A novel nontoxic form of arsenic called Arsenocholine-O-sulfate has been found within the body of  T. ophioglossoides in significant amounts. The functionality of Arsenocholine-O-Sulfate in T. ophioglossoides is unknown. It is unclear whether T. ophioglossoides takes up Arsenocholine-O-Sulfate as a byproduct of uptaking choline-O-sulfate, a compound used as for sulfate storage and as an osmolyte, whether it takes up AC-O-Sulfate for a biological function, or whether it synthesizes Arsenocholine-O-Sulfate internally.[19]


  1. ^ a b Quandt, C. Alisha; Kepler, Ryan M.; Gams, Walter; Araújo, João P. M.; Ban, Sayaka; Evans, Harry C.; Hughes, David; Humber, Richard; Hywel-Jones, Nigel; Li, Zengzhi; Luangsa-ard, J. Jennifer; Rehner, Stephen A.; Sanjuan, Tatiana; Sato, Hiroki; Shrestha, Bhushan; Sung, Gi-Ho; Yao, Yi-Jian; Zare, Rasoul; Spatafora, Joseph W. (2014). "Phylogenetic-based nomenclatural proposals for Ophiocordycipitaceae (Hypocreales) with new combinations in Tolypocladium". IMA Fungus. 5 (1): 121–134. doi:10.5598/imafungus.2014.05.01.12. PMC 4107890. PMID 25083412.
  2. ^ "GSD Species Synonymy: Elaphocordyceps ophioglossoides (Ehrh.) G.H. Sung, J.M. Sung & Spatafora". Species Fungorum. CAB International. Retrieved 2014-05-05.
  3. ^ Sung GH, Hywel-Jones NL, Sung JM, Luangsa-ard JJ, Shrestha B, Spatafora JW (2006). "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.
  4. ^ "GSD Species Synonymy". Species Fungorum. Retrieved May 6, 2023.
  5. ^ Roody, William C. (2003). Mushrooms of West Virginia and the Central Appalachians. University Press of Kentucky. p. 410. ISBN 0-8131-2813-7.
  6. ^ "Species Fungorum - GSD Species". Retrieved 2023-05-06.
  7. ^ Pacioni, G. (1981). Simon & Schuster's Guide to Mushrooms. Simon and Schuster. p. 349. ISBN 978-0-671-42849-5.
  8. ^ a b c Castellano, M.A., E. Cazares, B. Fondrick, and T. Dreisbach (2003) Handbook to additional fungal species of Special Concern in the Northwest Forest Plan. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-572. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. p. 144.
  9. ^ Audubon (2023). Mushrooms of North America. Knopf. p. 67. ISBN 978-0-593-31998-7.
  10. ^ Phillips, Roger (2010). Mushrooms and Other Fungi of North America. Buffalo, NY: Firefly Books. p. 379. ISBN 978-1-55407-651-2.
  11. ^ Shao, Xin-Xin; Chen, Cong; Liang, Meng-Meng; Yu, Zhi-yuan; Zhang, Feng-Cong; Zhou, Meng-jie; Wang, Zhen-guo; Fu, Xian-Jun (2021-12-14). ""Efficacy–Nature–Structure" Relationship of Traditional Chinese Medicine Based on Chemical Structural Data and Bioinformatics Analysis". ACS Omega. 6 (49): 33583–33598. doi:10.1021/acsomega.1c04440. ISSN 2470-1343. PMC 8675060. PMID 34926906.
  12. ^ a b Quandt, C. Alisha; Di, Yanming; Elser, Justin; Jaiswal, Pankaj; Spataforaet, Joseph W (March 1, 2016). "Differential Expression of Genes Involved in Host Recognition, Attachment, and Degradation in the Mycoparasite Tolypocladium ophioglossoides". G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics. 6 (3): 731–741. doi:10.1534/g3.116.027045. PMC 4777134. PMID 26801645. S2CID 23336593. Retrieved May 6, 2023.
  13. ^ a b Li, Rui-Qi; Liu, Xiang; Zhang, Min; Xu, Wei-Qun; Li, Yong-Quan; Chen, Xin-Ai (May 2022). "Gram-Level Production of Balanol through Regulatory Pathway and Medium Optimization in Herb Fungus Tolypocladium ophioglossoides". Journal of Fungi. 8 (5): 510. doi:10.3390/jof8050510. ISSN 2309-608X. PMC 9143294. PMID 35628765.
  14. ^ Chen, Xin-ai; He, Xian; Zhang, Min; Mao, Xu-ming; Li, Yong-quan (2020-09-01). "An efficient genetic transformation system for Chinese medicine fungus Tolypocladium ophioglossoides". Journal of Microbiological Methods. 176: 106032. doi:10.1016/j.mimet.2020.106032. ISSN 0167-7012. PMID 32805368. S2CID 221164082.
  15. ^ Jin, Da-Qing; Park, Byung-Chul; Lee, Jae-Seong; Choi, Hee-Don; Lee, Yong-Soo; Yang, Jae-Ha; Kim, Jung-Ae (2004). "Mycelial Extract of Cordyceps ophioglossoides Prevents Neuronal Cell Death and Ameliorates β-Amyloid Peptide-Induced Memory Deficits in Rats". Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 27 (7): 1126–1129. doi:10.1248/bpb.27.1126. PMID 15256753.
  16. ^ Xu, Qinqin; Liu, Zhenhua; Sun, Yisheng; Ding, Zhongjie; Lü, Longxian; Li, Yongquan (2012-04-01). "Optimization for Production of Intracellular Polysaccharide from Cordyceps ophioglossoides L2 in Submerged Culture and Its Antioxidant Activities in vitro". Chinese Journal of Chemical Engineering. 20 (2): 294–301. doi:10.1016/S1004-9541(12)60391-7. ISSN 1004-9541.
  17. ^ Quandt, C. Alisha; Bushley, Kathryn E.; Spatafora, Joseph W. (2015-07-28). "The genome of the truffle-parasite Tolypocladium ophioglossoides and the evolution of antifungal peptaibiotics". BMC Genomics. 16 (1): 553. doi:10.1186/s12864-015-1777-9. ISSN 1471-2164. PMC 4517408. PMID 26215153.
  18. ^ He, Xian; Zhang, Min; Guo, Yuan-Yang; Mao, Xu-Ming; Chen, Xin-Ai; Li, Yong-Quan (2018-10-19). "Revelation of the Balanol Biosynthetic Pathway in Tolypocladium ophioglossoides". Organic Letters. 20 (20): 6323–6326. doi:10.1021/acs.orglett.8b01543. ISSN 1523-7060. PMID 30277789. S2CID 52908983.
  19. ^ Braeuer, Simone; Borovička, Jan; Glabonjat, Ronald A.; Steiner, Lorenz; Goessler, Walter (2021-02-01). "Arsenocholine-O-sulfate: A novel compound as major arsenic species in the parasitic mushroom Tolypocladium ophioglossoides". Chemosphere. 265: 128886. Bibcode:2021Chmsp.265l8886B. doi:10.1016/j.chemosphere.2020.128886. ISSN 0045-6535. PMID 33228987. S2CID 227159392.