Cordyceps ningxiaensis Tolgor Bau & J.Q. Yan,

Zha, Ling-Sheng, Wen, Ting-Chi, Huang, Shi-Ke, Boonmee, Saranyaphat & Eungwanichayapant, Prapassorn D., 2019, Taxonomy and biology of Cordyceps qingchengensis sp. nov. and its allies, Phytotaxa 416 (1), pp. 14-24: 22

publication ID 10.11646/phytotaxa.416.1.2

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Cordyceps ningxiaensis Tolgor Bau & J.Q. Yan


Cordyceps ningxiaensis Tolgor Bau & J.Q. Yan  ( Fig. 7a, bView FIGURE 7)

Notes:— Cordyceps ningxiaensis  was introduced by Yan & Bau (2015) with the type from Liupanshan Mountain, Longde County, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, China. The species is morphologically similar and phylogenetically related to C. militaris  (L.) Link and its allies ( Figs 1View FIGURE 1, 5View FIGURE 5). Hosts of C. ningxiaensis  , which had originally been identified as fly pupae (Diptera), are actually Scoliidae  pupae ( Hymenoptera  ,) that parasitize the bodies of Scarabaeidae  larvae ( Coleoptera  ).

In nature, scoliid wasps ( Scoliidae  ) are the natural enemy of Scarabaeidae  larvae. The female scoliid wasps can bury themselves into soil freely to look for Scarabaeidae  larvae. They sting and anaesthetize the larvae, then lay eggs into their bodies which later hatch and become larvae. Using tissues of the Scarabaeidae  larvae as nutrition, the wasp larvae will grow and the Scarabaeidae  larvae will be consumed, until all tissues have been eaten and only exocuticle left, the wasp larvae will become pupae and finally adults ( Fabre 1886).

During the process of pupation, once the soil layer cover is shallow and sufficiently humid, the old larvae of scoliid wasps may easily be infected by the ascospores or conidia of C. ningxiaensis  that attach to their body surface. After being successfully infected, the insects will be killed in their pupal stage. When environmental conditions are suitable for the fungus, its fruiting bodies will break through the pupae, and a piece of ragged exocuticle of a Scarabaeidae  larva is left beside the host.

Recently, a similar hyperparasite was discovered in a specimen of C. cf. militaris  ( Fig. 7c, dView FIGURE 7) collected in Changbai Mountain, Jilin, China. The host, which seems to be a Lepidoptera  cocooned pupa, is in fact Braconidae  naked pupae ( Hymenoptera  ) that parasitized the cocoon. Apart from the different host species, its biology is similar to that of C. ningxiaensis  .