Submitted to: Society for Invertebrate Pathology Annual Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: May 3, 2001
Publication Date: August 1, 2001
Citation: HUMBER, R.A. CAN WE AMPLIFY OUR WISDOM ABOUT THE EVOLUTION AND ROLE OF ENTOMOPATHOGENIC FUNGI IN THE REAL WORLD?. SOCIETY FOR INVERTEBRATE PATHOLOGY ANNUAL MEETING. 2001.
PCR-based technologies offer powerful tools to study the systematics, taxonomy, and evolution of organisms. However, such techniques do not yet provide critical insights into many aspects of the biology of microbial entomopathogen. Examples where molecular and more traditional systematics approaches have led to conflicting interpretations include the Entomophthorales (a group that may not be monophyletic), the newly appreciated fungal affinities of microsporidia, and many aspects of the complex of clavicipitaceous ascomycetes (e.g., Cordyceps species) and ca 24 genera of Hyphomycetes representing the conidial states of these ascomycetes. Molecular techniques resolve taxonomic problems and can reveal highly evidence for evolutionary and biogeographical patterns if diverse types of data suggest the same conclusions. However, there is evidence that coevolution of fungal pathogens and their hosts is not so universal as is widely believed; there is evidence of interkingdom host shifts within the Clavicipitaceae (ascomycetes and conidial fungi in the largest, most complex group of fungal entomopathogens). Molecular techniques have not yet provided significant guidance in the selection of fungal isolates for use against target hosts nor in elucidating the underlying interactions between host and pathogen that, when integrated, constitute such biological phenomena as host specificity, virulence, and pathogenicity. Relatively little effort has been expended on using molecular techniques to elucidate how infections occur and become fully established in a host, the production and role of the toxins produced by many insect fungi, or to enumerate the controls over the diverse structures and compounds produced only during fungal sporulation.