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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Fungi
Phylum: Ascomycota
Class: Sordariomycetes
Order: Hypocreales
Family: Clavicipitaceae
Genus: Cordyceps
Species: C. unilateralis
Binomial name
Cordyceps unilateralis

Ophiocordyceps unilateralis

Cordyceps unilateralis is a species of entomopathogenic fungus that infects and alters the behavior of ants in order to ensure the widespread distribution of its spores. The spores enter the body of the insect through its spiracles, where they begin to consume the non-vital soft tissues. When the fungus is ready to spore, its mycelia enter the ant's brain and change how it perceives pheromones, causing the insect to climb to the top of a plant and use its mandibles to secure itself to the stem. The fungus then kills the ant, and the fruiting bodies of C. unilateralis grow from its head and explode, releasing the spores. This process takes 4 to 10 days.[1] The species produces red naphthoquinones that possesses anti-malarial activity.[2]


  1. Neurophilosophy: Brainwashed by a parasite. URL accessed on 2008-07-02.
  2. Wongsa P, Tasanatai K, Watts P, Hywel-Jones N (August 2005). Isolation and in vitro cultivation of the insect pathogenic fungus Cordyceps unilateralis. Mycol. Res. 109 (Pt 8): 936–40.

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