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Open Access Research article

Efficacy of Metarhizium anisopliae isolate MAX-2 from Shangri-la, China under desiccation stress

Zi-Hong Chen1, Ling Xu1, Feng-lian Yang2*, Guang-Hai Ji3, Jing Yang3 and Jian-Yun Wang1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Resources and Environmental Sciences, Baoshan College, Baoshan, Yunnan 678000, China

2 Institute of Insect Resources, College of Plant Science and Technology, Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan 430070, China

3 Key Laboratory of Agro-biodiversity and Pest Management of Education Ministry of China, Yunnan Agricultural University, Kunming, Yunnan 650201, China

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BMC Microbiology 2014, 14:4  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-14-4

Published: 3 January 2014

Abstract

Background

Metarhizium anisopliae, a soil-borne entomopathogen found worldwide, is an interesting fungus for biological control. However, its efficacy in the fields is significantly affected by environmental conditions, particularly moisture. To overcome the weakness of Metarhizium and determine its isolates with antistress capacity, the efficacies of four M. anisopliae isolates, which were collected from arid regions of Yunnan Province in China during the dry season, were determined at different moisture levels, and the efficacy of the isolate MAX-2 from Shangri-la under desiccation stress was evaluated at low moisture level.

Results

M. anisopliae isolates MAX-2, MAC-6, MAL-1, and MAQ-28 showed gradient descent efficacies against sterile Tenebrio molitor larvae, and gradient descent capacities against desiccation with the decrease in moisture levels. The efficacy of MAX-2 showed no significant differences at 35% moisture level than those of the other isolates. However, significant differences were found at 8% to 30% moisture levels. The efficacies of all isolates decreased with the decrease in moisture levels. MAX-2 was relatively less affected by desiccation stress. Its efficacy was almost unaffected by the decrease at moisture levels > 25%, but slowly decreased at moisture levels < 25%. By contrast, the efficacies of other isolates rapidly decreased with the decrease in moisture levels. MAX-2 caused different infection characteristics on T. molitor larvae under desiccation stress and in wet microhabitat. Local black patches were found on the cuticles of the insects, and the cadavers dried without fungal growth under desiccation stress. However, dark black internodes and fungal growth were found after death of the insects in the wet microhabitat.

Conclusions

MAX-2 showed significantly higher efficacy and superior antistress capacity than the other isolates under desiccation stress. The infection of sterile T. molitor larvae at low moisture level constituted a valid laboratory bioassay system in evaluating M. anisopliae efficacy under desiccation stress.

Keywords:
Biological control; Metarhizium anisopliae; Tenebrio molitor; Desiccation stress; Moisture level