Lineages of insect pathogenic fungi are concentrated in three major clades: Hypocreales (several genera), Entomophthoromycota (orders Entomophthorales and Neozygitales), and Onygenales (genus ). Our review focuses on aspects of the evolutionary biology of these fungi that have remained underemphasized in previous reviews. To ensure integration with the better-known domains of insect pathology research, we followed a conceptual framework formulated by Tinbergen, asking complementary questions on mechanism, ontogeny, phylogeny, and adaptation. We aim to provide an introduction to the merits of evolutionary approaches for readers with a background in invertebrate pathology research and to make the insect pathogenic fungi more accessible as model systems for evolutionary biologists. We identify a number of questions in which fundamental research can offer novel insights into the evolutionary forces that have shaped host specialization and life-history traits such as spore number and size, somatic growth rate, toxin production, and interactions with host immune systems.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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