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Evaluation of the fungus Beauveria bassiana (Deuteromycotina: Hyphomycetes), a potential biological control agent of Lutzomyia longipalpis (Diptera, Psychodidae)

Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ciências Veterinárias – PPGCV, Universidade Estadual do Ceará – UECE, Brazil; Laboratory of Veterinary Microbiology, Universidade Federal Rural do Semi-Árido – UFERSA, Brazil; Núcleo de Genômica e Bioinformática Tarsísio Pimenta – NUGEN, Universidade Estadual do Ceará – UECE, Brazil
Biological Control 01/2009; DOI: 10.1016/j.biocontrol.2009.05.004

ABSTRACT Visceral leishmaniasis is a zoonosis whose primary vector in Brazil is the sandfly Lutzomyia longipalpis Lutz & Neiva. Presently, efforts to control the vector have not been effective in reducing the prevalence of disease. A possible alternative to current strategies is the biological control of the vector using entomopathogenic fungi. This study evaluates the effects of the fungus, Beauveria bassiana (Bals.) Vuilleman, in different developmental stages of L. longipalpis. Five concentrations of the fungus were utilized ranging from 104 to 108 conidia/ml, with appropriate controls. The unhatched eggs, larvae and dead adults exposed to B. bassiana were sown to reisolate the fungus. The fungus was subsequently identified by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and DNA sequencing. Exposure to B. bassiana reduced the number of eggs that hatched by 59% (P < 0.01). The longevity of infected adults was 5 days, significantly lower than that of the negative control which was 7 days (P < 0.001). The longevity of the adult sandfly exposed to the positive chemical (pyrethroid, cypermetherin) control was less than 1 day. The effects of fungal infection on the hatching of eggs laid by infected females were also significant and dose-dependent (P < 0.05). With respect to fungal post-infection growth parameters, only germination and sporulation were significantly higher than the fungi before infection (P < 0.001). The identity of the reisolated fungus was confirmed by automated DNA sequencing post-passage in all insect stages. These data show that B. bassiana has good pathogenic potential, primarily on L. longipalpis larvae and adults. Consequently, the use of this fungus in sandfly control programs has potential in reducing the use of chemical insecticides, resulting in benefits to humans and the environment.

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