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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)

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]

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]



  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. ^ In Fossilized Leaf, Clues to a Zombie Ant, by Sindya N Bhanoo New York Times 24 August 2010
  7. ^ H. C. Evans; Simon L. Elliot; David P. Hughes (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.

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