Ecology of Terrestrial Fungal Entomopathogens

  • Ann E. Hajek
Part of the Advances in Microbial Ecology book series (AMIE, volume 15)


Fungal pathogens are capable of causing sensational levels of mortality in insect populations. As early as about 1000 AD, sericulturists in Asia reported Beauveria bassiana infections in silkworms (Steinhaus, 1956). The “germ theory of disease,” the concept that microbes can cause disease, was first experimentally proven by Agostino Bassi in 1834 working with B. bassiana and silkworms. From the late 1800s through 1925, research on the potential use of fungi for insect control was conducted. In recent years, largely due to our present knowledge of the hazards and inefficiencies of dependence on synthetic chemical pesticides for insect control, interest in developing fungal pathogens for control purposes has increased dramatically (Roberts and Hajek, 1992; Vandenberg, 1993). Although abundant research on use of entomopathogenic fungi for control has been conducted, there are major gaps in our understanding of the basic ecology of these fungal species, in part due to the complexity of host/pathogen/environment interactions and the diversity of host/pathogen systems to be studied. Lack of successful control in some systems and difficulties in adapting some species for typical control practices has promoted a shift in research emphasis. At present, some research efforts are directed toward understanding the factors leading to fungal infection in insects in order to investigate the potential for manipulating these systems to enhance levels of infection and promote development of epizootics (disease outbreaks).


Entomopathogenic Fungus Gypsy Moth Conidial Germination Beauveria Bassiana Potato Leafhopper 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ann E. Hajek
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EntomologyCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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