Submitted to: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/22/2017
Publication Date: 6/1/2017
Citation: Kepler, R., Maul, J.E., Rehner, S.A. 2017. Managing the plant microbiome for biocontrol fungi: Examples from Hypocreales. Current Opinion in Microbiology. 37(1):48-53. doi:10.1016/j.mib.2017.03.006.
Interpretive Summary: Part of the difficulty in developing effective biocontrol agents is the lack of information about the ecological niche and genetic potential of organisms under development. We make an argument that by using a “systematic-assisted” approach we can better understand particular groups of biocontrol agents, and suggest we can use this information to improve efficacy and persistence of applied biocontrol agents. Using the Hypocreales fungi as an example taxon we show that among this group there are both pathogens and beneficial species. Although there is an abundance of genetic and genomic data available, efforts are just now beginning to resolve some of the deep rooted disagreements and misunderstanding of Hypocreales phylogeny. Some of these newly revealed relationships suggest that Hypocreales may have evolved with plants, and have had numerous interactions with plants and insects sometimes switching hosts over evolutionary time. We discuss how a better understanding of the genetics of this diverse group of fungi and the emerging prelavence of genomic information about their potential hosts, sets the stage for a time of high paced discovery about the role these organisms can play in agricultural biocontrol. This review will be useful to scientists developing biological control strategies.
Technical Abstract: Feeding an increasing global population requires continued improvements in agricultural efficiency and productivity. Meeting estimated future production levels requires the adoption of practices that increase output without environmental degradation associated with external inputs to supplement nutrition or control pests. Enriching the community of microbes associated with plants in agricultural systems for those providing ecosystem services such as pest control, is one possible component towards achieving sustainable productivity increases. In this review, we explore the current state of knowledge for Hypocreales fungi used in biological control. Advances in understanding the field ecology, diversity and genetic determinants of host range and virulence of hypocrealean fungi provide the means to improve their efficacy.