Natural Cordyceps collected in Bhutan has been widely used as natural Cordyceps sinensis, an official species of Cordyceps used as Chinese medicines, around the world in recent years. However, whether Cordyceps from Bhutan could be really used as natural C. sinensis remains unknown. Therefore, DNA sequence, bioactive components including nucleosides and polysaccharides in twelve batches of Cordyceps from Bhutan were firstly investigated, and compared with natural C. sinensis. Results showed that the fungus of Cordyceps from Bhutan was C. sinensis and the host insect belonged to Hepialidae sp. In addition, nucleosides and their bases such as guanine, guanosine, hypoxanthine, uridine, inosine, thymidine, adenine, and adenosine, as well as compositional monosaccharides, partial acid or enzymatic hydrolysates, molecular weights and contents of polysaccharides in Cordyceps from Bhutan were all similar to those of natural C. sinensis. All data suggest that Cordyceps from Bhutan is a rational alternative of natural C. sinensis, which is beneficial for the improvement of their performance in health and medicinal food areas.
Cordyceps sinensis, one of the well-known tonic and traditional Chinese medicines, is a composite consisting of the stromata of the fungus, parasitized on the larva of some species of insects (Family: Hepialidae), and the dead caterpillar1,2. It is distributed on the Tibetan Plateau and its surrounding regions at an altitude above 3,000 m, including Tibet, Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan, and Yunnan provinces in China and in certain areas such as the countries of Bhutan, India and Nepal on the southern flank of the Himalayas1,3,4. Usually, C. sinensis has been used for the prevention and treatment of a variety of diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, lung inflammation, nocturnal emissions, and night sweats5,6,7. Indeed, nucleosides and polysaccharides were considered as the mainly bioactive components in C. sinensis8,9,10,11,12. Currently, due to its various beneficial effects and limited supply, the price of C. sinensis has increased dramatically and is much more expensive, even 4 times, than gold by weight13,14. Therefore, natural Cordyceps collected from Bhutan (Bhutanese Cordyceps) has attracted much attention of the Royal Government of Bhutan, which has been considered as an economically important fungus as natural C. sinensis15. However, whether Bhutanese Cordyceps could be really used as natural C. sinensis remains unknown. Indeed, to the best of our knowledge, few chemical characters of Cordyceps from Bhutan have been investigated, and never been compared with those of natural C. sinensis. Therefore, DNA sequence, bioactive components including nucleosides and polysaccharides in twelve batches of Bhutanese Cordyceps were firstly investigated, and compared with natural C. sinensis, which are beneficial for better understanding the rational use of Cordyceps from Bhutan.