• Chinese caterpillar fungus;
  • culturing manipulation;
  • sporulation;
  • tonic


The influence of nutritional and physical stress on sporulation, conidial germination and vegetative biomass of Ophiocordyceps sinensis, one of the most important medicinal fungi in China and now globally, was evaluated using a two-stage culture method. All the treatments, except nutrient deprivation, enhanced conidial production and vegetative biomass to some extent. However, conidia produced under stress showed decreased germination in comparison with those continuously cultured on the enriched potato dextrose agar (PDA; as the control). Among 10 treatments tested, the physical stress of frozen-shock produced the largest number of conidia, 7.5 times higher than that of the control, followed by heat-shock treatment. These results demonstrate that the fungus has strong physiological adaptations to environmental stress that may have evolved because it is endemic to the Tibetan Plateau. This report will be relevant to the study of the pathogenicity and artificial cultivation of this endangered fungus.