Microbiota in insect fungal pathology.


Boucias DG, Zhou Y, Huang S, Keyhani NO.
Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2018 Jul;102(14):5873-5888.


Significant progress has been made in the biochemical and genetic characterization of the host-pathogen interaction mediated by insect pathogenic fungi, with the most widely studied being the Ascomycetes (Hypocrealean) fungi, Metarhizium robertsii and Beauveria bassiana. However, few studies have examined the consequences and effects of host (insect) microbes, whether compatible or antagonistic, on the development and survival of entomopathogenic fungi. Host microbes can act on the insect cuticular surface, within the gut, in specialized insect microbe hosting structures, and within cells, and they include a wide array of facultative and/or obligate exosymbionts and endosymbionts. The insect microbiome differs across developmental stages and in response to nutrition (e.g., different plant hosts for herbivores) and environmental conditions, including exposure to chemical insecticides. Here, we review recent advances indicating that insect-pathogenic fungi have evolved a spectrum of strategies for exploiting or suppressing host microbes, including the production of antimicrobial compounds that are expressed at discrete stages of the infection process. Conversely, there is increasing evidence that some insects have acquired microbes that may be specialized in the production of antifungal compounds to combat infection by (entomopathogenic) fungi. Consideration of the insect microbiome in fungal insect pathology represents a new frontier that can help explain previously obscure ecological and pathological aspects of the biology of entomopathogenic fungi. Such information may lead to novel approaches to improving the efficacy of these organisms in pest control efforts.

KEYWORDS: Entomopathogenic fungi; Exosymbionts and endosymbionts; Facultative and obligate microbial symbionts; Host-pathogen interactions; Microbiome