Molecular and physiological effects of environmental UV radiation on fungal conidia
Conidia are specialized structures produced at the end of the asexual life cycle of most filamentous fungi. They are responsible for fungal dispersal and environmental persistence. In pathogenic species, they are also involved in host recognition and infection. Conidial production, survival, dispersal, germination, pathogenicity and virulence can be strongly influenced by exposure to solar radiation, although its effects are diverse and often species dependent. UV radiation is the most harmful and mutagenic waveband of the solar spectrum. Direct exposure to solar radiation for a few hours can kill conidia of most fungal species. Conidia are killed both by solar UV-A and UV-B radiation. In addition to killing conidia, which limits the size of the fungal population and its dispersion, exposures to sublethal doses of UV radiation can reduce conidial germination speed and virulence. The focus of this review is to provide an overview of the effects of solar radiation on conidia and on the major systems involved in protection from and repair of damage induced by solar UV radiation. The efforts that have been made to obtain strains of fungi of interest such as entomopathogens more tolerant to solar radiation will also be reviewed.