, Volume 55, Issue 1, pp 17-37
Date: 14 Nov 2009

Molecular ecology of fungal entomopathogens: molecular genetic tools and their applications in population and fate studies

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The power of molecular genetic techniques to address ecological research questions has opened a distinct interdisciplinary research area collectively referred to as molecular ecology. Molecular ecology combines aspects of diverse research fields like population and evolutionary genetics, as well as biodiversity, conservation biology, behavioural ecology, or species-habitat interactions. Molecular techniques detect specific DNA sequence characteristics that are used as genetic markers to discriminate individuals or taxonomic groups, for instance in analyses of population and community structures, for elucidation of phylogenetic relationships, or for the characterization and monitoring of specific strains in the environment. Here, we summarize the PCR-based molecular techniques used in molecular ecological research on fungal entomopathogens and discuss novel techniques that may have relevance to the studies of entomopathogenic fungi in the future. We discuss the flow chart of the molecular ecology approaches and we highlight some of the critical steps involved. There are still many unresolved questions in the understanding of the ecology of fungal entomopathogens. These include population characteristics and relations of genotypes and habitats as well as host-pathogen interactions. Molecular tools can provide substantial support for ecological research and offer insight into this far inaccessible systems. Application of molecular ecology approaches will stimulate and accelerate new research in the field of entomophathogen ecology.

Handling Editor: Helen Roy.