The artificial cultivation of medicinal Caterpillar Fungus, Ophiocordyceps sinensis (Ascomycetes): a review

Int J Med Mushrooms. 2013;15(5):425-34. doi: 10.1615/intjmedmushr.v15.i5.10.


Caterpillar fungus, Ophiocordyceps sinensis (syn. Cordyceps sinensis), is highly valued in China as a dietary supplement or tonic food and natural remedy. The combination of the fungus and dead insect has been used as a traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, and evidence shows its efficacy on immunomodulatory potentials. The price of O. sinensis has continued to increase over the last few years due to growing worldwide demand, driving research to determine methods of artificial cultivation to make O. sinensis a more affordable material for commercial trade. This study highlights many aspects of artificial cultivation of O. sinensis, including separation of the anamorph, culture of the mycelium, cultivation of the fruiting bodies, bioecological characteristics of the host insect, and two patterns of artificial cultivation. In addition, this review discusses the current state, limitations, remedies, and future prospects, aiming to draw researchers' attention to the new frontier of research needs in this context.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • China
  • Culture Media / chemistry
  • Culture Media / metabolism
  • Hypocreales / chemistry
  • Hypocreales / growth & development*
  • Hypocreales / metabolism
  • Industrial Microbiology / instrumentation
  • Industrial Microbiology / methods*
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional


  • Culture Media