The Entomophthorales are an order of fungi that has traditionally been classified in the class Zygomycetes. Most species of the Entomophthorales are pathogens of insects, a few attack nematodes, mites, and tardigrades, and some (particularly the genus Conidiobolus) are free-living saprotrophs.
The name Entomophthorales is derived from the Greek for insect destroyer (Gk: entomo=insect, phthor=destroyer)
- Basidiobolus ranarum, a commensal fungus of frogs and a mammal pathogen
- Condiobolus coronatus, a saprotrophic fungus of leaf litter and a mammal pathogen
- Entomophaga maimaiga, a biocontrol of gypsy moths
- Entomophthora muscae, a pathogen of houseflies
- Massospora spp., pathogens of periodical cicadas
Most species of the Entomophthorales produce ballistic asexual spores that are forcibly discharged. When not landing on a suitable host, these spores can germinate to make a one of several alternate spore forms, including a smaller version of the original spore, or (in some species) an adhesive spore elevated on a very slender conidiophore called a capilliconidiophore.
Recent debate has centered on whether the Basidiobolaceae should be included in the Entomophthorales, or raised to ordinal status. Molecular systematics approaches so far give an ambiguous answer. Some analyses suggest the Basdiobolaceae are more closely related to certain chytrid fungi than to the Entomophthorales (Nagahama et al. 1995). Others find weak support to maintain them in the Entomophthorales (James et al. 2006). Morphological characters can be found to support either hypothesis.
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