Identification and evaluation of endemic Metarhizium strains for biological control of banana rust thrips

McGuire, Amy V., and Northfield, Tobin D. (2021) Identification and evaluation of endemic Metarhizium strains for biological control of banana rust thrips. Biological Control, 162. 104712.

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Banana rust thrips, Chaetanaphothrips signipennis, are devastating insect pests of banana crops worldwide. The entomopathogenic fungi are naturally occurring microbes known to infect a variety of thrips species, but few studies have investigated the potential for tropical thrips control using fungal entomopathogens, and there are no commercial entomopathogenic products for C. signipennis or similar pests in Australia. Here, we investigated the occurrence of fungal entomopathogenic strains on banana farms in tropical Queensland, Australia. We sampled soil from five environmentally managed farms, and in the corresponding natural hedgerow adjacent to each farm, cultured naturally occurring endemic fungal isolates and evaluated their efficacy in laboratory, cage and field trials against C. signipennis. Entomopathogens identified through next-generation sequencing of soil and soil baiting were predominantly Metarhizium strains. Three Metarhizium strains comprising two species, M. lepidiote and M. guizhouense, were lab cultured and evaluated as potential controls against C. signipennis. All strains demonstrated significantly increased C. signipennis mortality in lab trials, with M. lepidiote providing the best control in the cage trials and greatest growth in the lab, so this strain was evaluated in the field trial. A single application of Metarhizium lepidiote reduced thrips damage enough below marketable limits for all treated banana bunches, while all untreated bunches were unmarketable. This isolate shows promise for development of a commercial strain against C. signipennis and may be useful in environmentally managed farming systems.

Item ID: 70026
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1090-2112
Keywords: Banana farm, Chaetanaphothrips signipennis, Ecoganic, Endemic, Metarhizium, Tropics
Copyright Information: © 2021 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Date Deposited: 02 Mar 2022 01:21
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