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Evaluation of entomopathogenic fungi as potential biological control agents of the dengue mosquito, Aedes aegypti (Diptera: Culicidae)

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date2011
JournalBiocontrol Science and Technology
Journal number9
Volume21
Number of pages21
Pages1027-1047
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Dengue is a global health concern. Growing insecticide resistance in the primary mosquito vector, Aedes aegypti, limits the effectiveness of vector control, so alternative tools are urgently needed. One approach is the use of biopesticides comprising entomopathogenic fungi, e.g., Beauveria bassiana and Metarhizium anisopliae. These fungi may decrease disease transmission by reducing mosquito vector longevity and also occur worldwide, although many isolates have not been tested for virulence against mosquitoes. Ninety-three isolates of entomopathogenic fungi representing six species (B. bassiana, M. anisopliae, Isaria fumosorosea, I. farinosa, I. flavovirescens, and Lecanicillium spp.) were screened as potential biological control agents of Aedes aegypti. A hierarchical, multi-criteria experimental design was undertaken to find suitable isolates. Initial screening was performed via in vitro assays measuring radial growth and spore persistence, eliminating isolates with poor growth or viability on nutrient-rich substrate. Subsequent measurements of spore persistence revealed that only nine of 30 strains tested had half-lives exceeding 3 weeks. Ten isolates were chosen for in vivo bioassays against adult Ae. aegypti. From these assays, two Australian isolates of B. bassiana, FI-277 and FI-278, appeared to be most promising. Both isolates were shown to be virulent against Ae. aegypti at 20, 26, and 32°C. Spreading spores manually onto substrate was found to be more efficacious than spraying. Ae. aegypti infected by manually-spread spores on cotton substrate were found to have an LT50 of 3.7±0.3 days. These characteristics suggest that FI-277 has promise as a dengue mosquito biocontrol agent, either alone or combined with conventional chemical insecticides.