Johnny Wee had an exciting encounter at Venus Drive yesterday. In all his years as a nature photographer, this was the first time he came across a dragonfly infected with a cordyceps fungus (Ophiocordyceps ?odonatae). Not sure whether someone else had a similar encounter. If so, would he or she be able to recognise it as being infected with such a fungus?
The two images here show the dead and dried dragonfly immobilised on its support. Note the many slender outgrowths from its body. These are the fruiting bodies of the fungus packed with spores. The spores will eventually be release into the air to be blown away by the wind. Once a spore finds a suitable host, it will enter its body and put out branching threads will invade the tissues of the host. The host will eventually die and the parasitic fungus will push out its slender fruiting bodies and so the cycle continues.
Cordyceps are a group of parasitic fungi that grow inside the bodies of insects and other arthropods (centipedes, mites, lobsters, crabs, prawns…).
Those who are into Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) may be familiar with cordyceps. The fungus Cordyceps sinensis, renamed Ophiocordyceps sinensis, grows inside the body of the caterpillars of a specific moth found at high altitudes in China, Tibet and Nepal. The fungus eventually kills the caterpillars and puts out its fruiting bodies. The cordyceps of TCM are the dried up caterpillar hosts with the fruiting bodies attached. Cordecyps are supposed to have anti-aging and pro-vitality properties.
29th September 2016