Fungal pathogens as classical biological control agents against arthropods
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- Hajek, A.E. & Delalibera, I. BioControl (2010) 55: 147. doi:10.1007/s10526-009-9253-6
Fungal entomopathogens have been used more frequently than other types of pathogens for classical biological control. Among 136 programs using different groups of arthropod pathogens, 49.3% have introduced fungal pathogens (including both the traditional fungi and microsporidia). The most commonly introduced species was Metarhizium anisopliae (Metschnikoff) Sorokin, with 13 introductions, followed by Entomophaga maimaiga Humber, Shimazu & Soper, which was released seven times. The majority of introduction programs have focused on controlling invasive species of insects or mites (70.7%) rather than on native hosts (29.4%). Almost half of the introductions of traditional fungi targeted species of Hemiptera and 75% of the microsporidia introduced have been introduced against lepidopteran species. The United States was the country where most introductions of fungi took place (n = 24). From 1993 to 2007, no arthropod pathogens were released in the US due to the rigorous regulatory structure, but in 2008 two species of microsporidia were introduced against the gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar (L.). Establishment of entomopathogenic fungi in programs introducing traditional fungi was 32.1% and establishment was 50.0% for programs introducing microsporidia. In some programs, releases have resulted in permanent successful establishment with no non-target effects. In summary, classical biological control using fungal entomopathogens can provide a successful and environmentally friendly avenue for controlling arthropod pests, including the increasing numbers of invasive non-native species.