3) On of my favorite specimens was this oldish 8 cm sphinxoid moth digested by a Cordyceps
. It is an Akanthomyces
species (Tatiana suggests A. pistilariformis
), an anamorphic fungus related to Cordyceps
. Anamorphic means this fungus does not reproduce sexually with spores, but produces conidia, which have the same DNA as the fungus. It already has shed all its conidia, which grow on the antenna-like structures, called conidiophores. Check out Isaria tenuipes
below, that gives you an idea how many conidia can be grown by an anamorph. The fungus affixed the moth to the leaf so it can keep this great perch to disperse its "spores" successfully. Madidi National Park, Bolivia.
4) An Isaria tenuipes
Peck, another Cordyceps
-anamorph growing out of a Pupa of Noctunidae found in the hollow of a very decayed tree trunk.
Fruiting body height 5cm. Chalalan, Madidi National Park, Bolivia.
5) Another Isaria tenuipes
with tons of conidia or conidiospores. The attic greek root of the term conidia means dust. Isaria
is a cosmopolitan species. I am not sure if the infected insect was very hairy or some other organism is responsible for all the brittles. Chalalan, Madidi National Park, Bolivia.
6) A red fruiting Ophiocordyceps australis
fruiting from an ant between Xylaria
fruiting bodies. At first I was just trying to get a picture of the Xylaria
then I saw theCordyceps
. Key for finding Cordyceps
is slowing down and looking carefully. Best substrate are decaying tree trunks, but many other locations are sites Cordyceps
will direct its prey to before killing it and digesting it. Chalalan, Madidi National Park, Bolivia.
7) A transect of the head of an Ophiocordyceps australis
reveals seed-like structures, which are the perithecia containing the asci-sacs in which the spores are produced. Size of the head is about 8 mm. Chalalan, Madidi National Park, Bolivia.
8) Ophiocordyceps australis
growing out of an ant.
Cerro Brujo, Rurrenabaque, Bolivia
Metacordyceps martialis? and Ophiocordyceps australis
9) A late stage Metacordyceps
, probably Metacordyceps martialis
laying next to Ophiocordyceps australis
Found by Brendan O'Brian at Cerro Brujo, Rurrenabaque, Bolivia
10) A much fresher specimen, probably a Metacordyceps
. The fruiting bodies are growing out of a coleopteran larva (length ca 6 cm).
Cerro Brujo, Rurrenabaque, Bolivia
The enlarged fruiting body
10a) The yellow area in the center of the stromata contains mature perithecia. The darkish spots are the ostioles, the opening of the perithecium through which the spores are released. The top white part is not fully differentiated yet and still growing. When maturing it will turn yellow too and develop the pimpled surface due to growth of the perithecia.
11) Probably a Hirsutella
, a Cordyceps
anamorph. As typical for an anamorph this specimen is lacking a well-defined "head". Hirsutella
-species will depend on the digested insect. Found by Colden McClurg at Cerro Brujo, Rurrenabaque, Bolivia. Identified by Tatiana Sanjuan.
12) Ophiocordyceps kniphofioides var. ponerinae
jutting out of a dead trunk. Ponerinae refers to the group of ants this Ophiocordyceps
attacks. I love the orange-black contrast. The orange is the fertile tissue. Identified by Tatiana Sanjuan. Chalalan, Madidi National Park, Bolivia.
12a) Here the same Ophiocordyceps kniphofioides var. ponerinae
with its victim or host, whichever perspective one takes, a Ponerinae ant dug out of the rotten wood. Unfortunately my camera was fogged-up that morning. Photographing in the rain forest, even when it does not rain is a real challenge. My flash stopped working for 5 days, but once out of the humidity it came back to life, go figure! Chalalan, Madidi National Park, Bolivia.
13) A similar looking Cordyceps
we encountered in Coroico in the Yungas, the cloud forest belt in around 1500 m asl. Found by Nicole Cook.
If the host is a Megaloptera larvae, which it seems to be, then this would be the newly described Ophiocordyceps tiputini,
according to Tatiana Sanjuan.
14) Another ant-parasitizing Ophiocordyceps kniphofioides var. ponerinae
. This stroma is not fully matured yet.
Found by Brendan O'Brien at Cerro Brujo, Rurrenabaque, Bolivia.
15) A brightly red fruiting Cordyceps
growing out of some insect protein. Trying to figure out what it could be, I came up with Cordyceps pruinosa
due to color and perithecia shape and alignment. However, so far this species is not described from the neotropics, but known from East Asia. Tatiana Sanjuan informed me that she found many specimen of C. pruinosa
in the Amazon and depending on the host it could be C. caloceroides
(parasitizing on Theraphosidae / tarantula) or C. pruinosa
(parasitizing eggs of Acrididae / grasshoppers). Furthermore she sugests that with application of KOH these fungi turn purple. Found by Pat Hill in Chalalan, Madidi National Park, Bolivia.
15a) Partly extracted from the log, the kink in one of the stromata was caused when it hit the tough bark and changed direction to find its way out.
15b) What color, what beautiful structure! Chalalan, Madidi National Park, Bolivia.
16) Fruiting bodies growing out of a mesh of palm roots. I waited for three days to unearth the host insect in hope the fungus would further mature. Unfortunately digging down to the host insect was impossible. It was all totally intertwined palm roots looking absolutely identical to the black lower part of the stromata and before I got to any insect I had already broken off or sliced off the fungal tissue from its elusive base. Last straw was when I cut my finger. Should have brought a big saw! Chalalan, Madidi National Park, Bolivia.
16a) Transect of the "Cordyceps" shown above. The perithecia are not fully developed yet. Larry Evans tried to find spores under the microscope, but to no avail.
17) A Salticidae spider fully enmeshed in fungal tissue by a Torrubiella
species. Size is about 3 cm across. Found by Colden McClurg near Caquihuara Macaw Cliff, Madidi National Park, Bolivia.
17a) Looking at the top of the former spider. The ring-like structure and the round knobs inside the ring are packed with perithecia<radeditorformatted_1> of the Torrubiella fungus.