Photobiology of the keystone genus Metarhizium

Guilherme T P Brancini, John E Hallsworth, Luis M Corrochano, Gilberto Ú L Braga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Metarhizium fungi are soil-inhabiting ascomycetes which are saprotrophs, symbionts of plants, pathogens of insects, and participate in other trophic/ecological interactions, thereby performing multiple essential ecosystem services. Metarhizium species are used to control insect pests of crop plants and insects that act as vectors of human and animal diseases. To fulfil their functions in the environment and as biocontrol agents, these fungi must endure cellular stresses imposed by the environment, one of the most potent of which is solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Here, we examine the cellular stress biology of Metarhizium species in context of their photobiology, showing how photobiology facilitates key aspects of their ecology as keystone microbes and as mycoinsectides. The biophysical basis of UV-induced damage to Metarhizium, and mechanistic basis of molecular and cellular responses to effect damage repair, are discussed and interpreted in relation to the solar radiation received on Earth. We analyse the interplay between UV and visible light and how the latter increases cellular tolerance to the former via expression of a photolyase gene. By integrating current knowledge, we propose the mechanism through which Metarhizium species use the visible fraction of (low-UV) early-morning light to mitigate potentially lethal damage from intense UV radiation later in the day. We also show how this mechanism could increase Metarhizium environmental persistence and improve its bioinsecticide performance. We discuss the finding that visible light modulates stress biology in the context of further work needed on Metarhizium ecology in natural and agricultural ecosystems, and as keystone microbes that provide essential services within Earth's biosphere.
Original languageEnglish
Article number112374
JournalJournal of photochemistry and photobiology. B, Biology
Early online date23 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


  • Photoreactivation
  • Ultraviolet radiation
  • Cellular stress
  • Fungal photobiology
  • Entomopathogenic Metarhizium
  • DNA-damage repair
  • Visible light


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