One of the most famous mushrooms of all time is actually worth its weight in gold because of its rarity - Ophiocordyceps sinensis. This mushroom is also called caterpillar fungus, yartsa gunbu, or winter worm summer grass, and is a fungus that takes over a ghost moth larva and sprouts a mushroom out of its head. It's collected all around the Himalayan mountains as high as 10,500 feet above sea level.
Today on the show we bring on Harvard entomologist Zhengyang Wang who focuses on the actual ghost moth insect (Thitarodes shambalaensis) portion of the zombie fungus relationship. He's already identified new species and is on the mission to sequence them all!
- 101 on Ophiocordyceps sinensis
- The current economic impact of the caterpillar fungus (Ophiocordyceps sinensis)
- The range of where they grow
- What insects to Ophiocordyceps sinensis grow on
- The illegal blackmarket trade of this mushroom
- The relationship between the different plants, insects and fungi
- Cracking the code on how to cultivate these mushrooms
- The lifecycle of this mushroom
- The future of genetic and metabolic sequencing for this fungus, plant, and insect relationship
- And so mush more!
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