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BNI June 1999 Vol 20. No.2 : Review

Harry C. Evans

Biological control of weed and insect pests using fungal pathogens, with particular reference to Sri Lanka. BNI 20(2)
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The principles and practice of using fungal pathogens to control both weed and insect pests are outlined. It is emphasized that a clear distinction should be made between natural control, resulting from the direct action of natural enemies, and biological control, achieved by the deliberate manipulation of natural enemies by man.

The past history of research on entomopathogenic fungi in Sri Lanka is traced and discussed, highlighting the pivotal role played by early colonial scientists, such as Tom Petch, in elucidating their ecology and systematics. The actual and potential exploitation of entomopathogenic fungi as biological control agents is reviewed.

Several plant species, such as Dichrostachys cinerea, Ligustrum robustum and Rottboellia cochinchinensis, which are indigenous to but generally uncommon in Sri Lanka, have become major invasive weeds in exotic situations, particularly in the Neotropics. In contrast, a number of native, neotropical plant species, such as Chromolaena odorata, Eichhornia crassipes, Lantana camara and Mimosa pigra, which are typically only minor weeds in Latin America, have become invasive in Sri Lanka, posing a threat to both agricultural and natural ecosystems. These examples are discussed in relation to the role of natural enemies, with particular reference to fungal pathogens, in the regulation of plant populations and their use as classical biological control agents.