Availability: 100 in stock
Ophiocordyceps sinensis Agar Plate
Looking for the best Ophiocordyceps sinensis Agar Plate around? Our Agar Plates are made-to-order, providing you with the absolute cleanest, aggressive mycelium on arrival.
Ophiocordyceps sinensis (formerly known as Cordyceps sinensis), is known in English colloquially as caterpillar fungus, or by its more prominent names yartsa gunbu.
It is an entomopathogenic fungus (a fungus that grows on insects) in the family Ophiocordycipitaceae. It is mainly found in the meadows above 3,500 meters (11,483 feet) in the Himalayan regions of Nepal, Bhutan, India, Myanmar and Tibet. It parasitizes larvae of ghost moths and produces a fruiting body which used to be valued as a herbal remedy and in traditional Chinese medicine. However, the fruiting bodies harvested in nature usually contain high amounts of arsenic and other heavy metals so they are potentially toxic and sales have been strictly regulated by the CFDA (China Food and Drug Administration) since 2016.
The caterpillars prone to infection by O. sinensis generally live 15 cm (5.9 in) underground in alpine grass and shrub-lands on the Tibetan Plateau and the Himalayas at an altitude between 3,000 and 5,000 m (9,800 and 16,400 ft). The fungus is reported from the northern range of Nepal, Bhutan, and also from the northern states of India, apart from northern Yunnan, eastern Qinghai, eastern Tibet, western Sichuan, southwestern Gansu provinces. Fifty-seven taxa from several genera (37 Thitarodes, 1 Bipectilus, 1 Endoclita, 1 Gazoryctra, 3 Pharmacis, and 14 others not correctly identified to genus) are recognized as potential hosts of O. sinensis.
The stalk-like dark brown to black fruiting body (or mushroom) grows out of the head of the dead caterpillar and emerges from the soil in alpine meadows by early spring. During late summer, the fruiting body disperses spores. The caterpillars, which live underground feeding on roots, are most vulnerable to the fungus after shedding their skin, during late summer. In late autumn, chemicals on the skin of the caterpillar interact with the fungal spores and release the fungal mycelia, which then infects the caterpillar.
The infected larvae tend to remain underground vertical to the soil surface with their heads up. After invading a host larva, the fungus ramifies throughout the host and eventually kills it. Gradually the host larvae become rigid because of the production of fungal sclerotia. Fungal sclerotia are multihyphal structures that can remain dormant and then germinate to produce spores. After overwintering, the fungus ruptures the host body, forming the fruiting body, a sexual sporulating structure (a perithecial stroma) from the larval head that is connected to the sclerotia (dead larva) below ground and grows upward to emerge from the soil to complete the cycle.
The slow growing O. sinensis grows at a comparatively low temperature, i.e., below 21 °C. Temperature requirements and growth rates are crucial factors that distinguish O. sinensis from other similar fungi. Climate change is suspected to be negatively affecting the mountain organism.
Some photos of this product in its wild-foraged form are sourced from iNaturalist or Wikipedia, taken by xulescu_g, Baburkhan . Licensed by CC-BY-SA.
Frequently Asked Questions
An agar plate is a petri dish with solidified nutrient solution (I make mine with light malt extract, generally). The dish is sealed with parafilm to keep it sterile while the transfer colonizes the plate. The mycelial bodies grow on our agar plates in sterile incubators before being shipped to you!
Keep your agar plates ideally in the fridge, within a ziplock bag. Let them come to room temperature before opening them – it’ll prevent condensation!
Grab your scalpel and get to work! Need a scalpel? Check my gear page!
Slides from agar plates can be propagated onto other mediums very easily. The beauty of agar plates is the ability to be absolutely certain that your sample is healthy and clean!
Some photos on this page have been sourced from iNaturalist or Wikipedia, taken mark-groeneveld, Alan Rockefeller, Matthew Borella, Denis Zabin, kaju, Andrey Loria, Juan Carlos Pérez Magaña or others not yet added to this list. See a photo your recognize that isn’t properly credited? Get a giftcard for letting us know!
Sometimes, contam happens! All of our samples come with a 30 day replacement policy. Please head to our Help Center to get the process started.
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All of my agar plates are made-to-order. This ensures that you have nothing but the freshest, most voracious mycelium when it gets to your doorstep.
Please check for your individual species on this page to see colonization times.
If you’re interested in ordering agar plates and other items like liquid culture, or mushroom spores, you can have your order shipped in two by adding this item!
Please note that once started, Agar Plates are non-refundable or returnable.
For each agar plate in your order, you’ll receive a healthy, colonized agar plate, and an additional piece of parafilm in case you need to reseal it.