Host specificity in biological control: insights from opportunistic pathogens
Article first published online: 7 JUN 2012
© 2012 The Authors. Evolutionary Applications published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.
Special Issue: Evolution and Biological Control
Volume 5, Issue 5, pages 470–480, July 2012
How to Cite
Brodeur, J. (2012), Host specificity in biological control: insights from opportunistic pathogens. Evolutionary Applications, 5: 470–480. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-4571.2012.00273.x
- Issue published online: 10 JUL 2012
- Article first published online: 7 JUN 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: 27 APR 2012
- Manuscript Received: 26 APR 2012
- biological control;
- entomopathogenic fungi;
- host range;
- host specificity;
Host/prey specificity is a significant concern in biological control. It influences the effectiveness of a natural enemy and the risks it might have on non-target organisms. Furthermore, narrow host specificity can be a limiting factor for the commercialization of natural enemies. Given the great diversity in taxonomy and mode of action of natural enemies, host specificity is a highly variable biological trait. This variability can be illustrated by opportunist fungi from the genus Lecanicillium, which have the capacity to exploit a wide range of hosts – from arthropod pests to fungi causing plant diseases – through different modes of action. Processes determining evolutionary trajectories in host specificity are closely linked to the modes of action of the natural enemy. This hypothesis is supported by advances in fungal genomics concerning the identity of genes and biological traits that are required for the evolution of life history strategies and host range. Despite the significance of specificity, we still need to develop a conceptual framework for better understanding of the relationship between specialization and successful biological control. The emergence of opportunistic pathogens and the development of ‘omic’ technologies offer new opportunities to investigate evolutionary principles and applications of the specificity of biocontrol agents.