Potential of Cactoblastis cactorum as a vector for fungi pathogenic to pricklypear, Opuntia inermis

Martin, H.L., and Dale, M.L. (2001) Potential of Cactoblastis cactorum as a vector for fungi pathogenic to pricklypear, Opuntia inermis. Biological Control, 21 (3). pp. 258-263.

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In Australia, fungi associated with larvae of the biological control agent Cactoblastis cactorum may contribute to the control of the exotic weed pricklypear (Opuntia inermis). C. cactorum larvae were assessed for their ability to vector pathogenic fungi into O. inermis by the infestation of larvae with fungal suspensions. Six fungal isolates caused disease after being carried into the host on external surfaces of larvae, and propagules of one isolate (UQ5109) initiated disease after being transferred from the cladode epidermis into the host by larvae feeding on the plant. Scanning electron microscopy revealed extensive hyphal growth on the external surfaces of larvae infested with several of the isolates. Fungi isolated from field-grown O. inermis cladodes were tested for pathogenicity to this plant in an in vivo plant assay. In total, 152 isolates were screened, 22 of which infected the host in pathogenicity tests. Only 1 (UQ5115) infected undamaged host tissue, whereas the remainder required the host to be wounded before infection could proceed. The majority of isolates were only weakly pathogenic, even when inoculated via wounds, suggesting that most were either saprophytes or weak parasites. This study demonstrates that it is possible for larvae of C. cactorum to transmit fungal pathogens into O. inermis tissue and it has provided a sound basis for future field work to determine the contribution that fungi make to the control of O. inermis.

Item ID: 54112
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1090-2112
Keywords: Opuntia inermis; Cactoblastis cactorum; pricklypear; biological control; fungi
Date Deposited: 14 Aug 2018 23:20
FoR Codes: 10 TECHNOLOGY > 1002 Environmental Biotechnology > 100202 Biological Control @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0607 Plant Biology > 060704 Plant Pathology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9604 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species > 960499 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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