Infection of insects and persistence of Metarhizium (Hypocreales: Clavicipitaceae) species on apple bark
Keywords:Codling moth, woolly apple aphid, biological control, Metarhizium brunneum, Metarhizium pinghaense, conidia
Entomopathogenic fungi (EPF) are cosmopolitan soil borne pathogens that cause epizootics in various insect
orders. EPF isolates of Metarhizium brunneum and M. pinghaense have shown the potential for use as biological
agents of important agricultural insect pests. The aim of the current study was to test for the persistence of
M. brunneum and M. pinghaense on apple bark over a period of three weeks, under laboratory conditions. Apple
bark was sprayed with conidial suspensions of both fungi, at a standard infective conidial concentration of
107 conidia/ml. The persistence, or survival, of the conidia on apple bark was measured using codling moth
larvae (CM) (Cydia pomonella) and females of woolly apple aphid (WAA) (Eriosoma lanigerum) as indicator
species. The results showed that conidia of M. pinghaense can induce mortality of insect pests through contact
with an EPF-treated substrate, with mortality of 39% to 82% for WAA over a period of 10 days post application,
and with mortality of 3% to 68% for CM over a period of 7 days, after application to apple bark. Further
evaluation showed that the conidia of M. pinghaense persisted longer on apple bark, up to 63%, than did
M. brunneum, up to 11%, three weeks post application of the conidial suspensions. The study provides insights
into the potential persistence of fungal isolates on apple bark over time post application. Further evaluation of
the persistence of the isolates on apple bark under both glasshouse and field conditions should be conducted.
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