Faculty of Biology, University of Latvia
Hard copy: ISSN 1691–8088
On-line: ISSN 2255–9582
Environ Exp Biol (2015) 13: 61–73
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Environmental and

Environ Exp Biol (2015) 13: 61–73


A review of Chinese Cordyceps with special reference to Nepal, focusing on conservation

Bikash Baral1,*, Bhushan Shrestha2,3, **, Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva4, ***
1Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 27, Latokartanonkaari 7, 00014, Finland
2Institute of Life Science and Biotechnology, Sungkyunkwan University, Suwon 440-746, Republic of Korea
3Green Energy Mission/Nepal, Ghatte Kulo, Anam Nagar, Kathmandu, P.O. Box 10647, Nepal
4P.O. Box 7, Miki-cho post office, Ikenobe 3011-2, Kagawa-ken, 761-0799, Japan
*Corresponding author, E-mail: bikash.baral@helsinki.fi
**Corresponding author, E-mail: bhushanshrestha2004@yahoo.com
***Corresponding author, E-mail: jaimetex@yahoo.com


The Chinese caterpillar fungus, Ophiocordyceps sinensis (syn. Cordyceps sinensis) is an endemic species to alpine sub-meadow habitats of Nepal Himalaya and the Tibetan Plateau. Owing to its crucial and elusive medicinal attributes and known rarity and availability in the high Himalayas, extraction and exploitation of this fungus has caused extreme biotic pressure on the Himalayan alpine meadows of Nepal. Changes in micro-climatic conditions, unprecedented collection intensity and profound economic dependence of rural communities certainly affect stages of the life-cycle of this fungus, which ultimately calls for sustainable resource management. Several studies strongly indicate that this fungus and its as yet unidentified relatives possess high amounts of potentially bioactive chemical compounds, endowing it with medicinal properties. These issues, together with its natural historical attributes, harvesting techniques, and an understanding of the genetic diversity and genesis of O. sinensis would provide important clues regarding its evolution as well as needed information for in situ and ex situ conservation of this fungus. Molecular analyses and the development of microsatellite markers would allow for the authentication of this medicinal fungus, differentiating it from several closely related Cordyceps species, thus preventing falsification and discouraging illicit trade and the marketing of available counterfeits. This review highlights the importance of this fungus through studies on its status, diversity, ecological niches, socio-economic, administrative and mycological perspectives, and practices that have been and should be performed for its effective sustainable management in the highly diverse Nepal Himalayas.

Key words: biodiversity conservation, Cordyceps sinensis, ecological niche, ecological constraints, endemic entomopathogenic fungi, fungus cum larvae, Himalaya, Ophiocordyceps, Yarsagumba.

Environ Exp Biol (2015) 13: 61–73
 DOI: http://doi.org/10.22364/eeb

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