Arthropod-killing fungi are a diverse assemblage spanning the breadth of the fungal kingdom. These fungi have evolved complex mechanisms to overcome arthropods and, in some interesting cases, manipulate the behavior of their hosts. Broadly, arthropod-pathogenic fungi are part of a consortium of arthropod-associated microbes which span the parasite-mutualist continuum. To understand the evolutionary history of fungi along this continuum it is critical to consider arthropod host biology. As our understanding of arthropod-pathogenic fungi advances, their potential as platforms for biotechnology increases. Transgenic arthropod-pathogenic fungi provide abundant research and biocontrol applications. Transgenic fungi expressing insect-specific toxins have shown great promise for controlling malaria mosquitoes in laboratory and semi-field trials. This technology is versatile and is only strengthened by molecular tools in our age of genomics.
About the Speaker
Dr. Brian Lovett is an insect pathologist at the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Ithaca, New York working on fungal biology, biocontrol, and biotechnology. He has contributed to the advancement of transgenic mosquito-killing fungi for malaria prevention.