Entomopathogenic Fungi Infecting Lepidopteran Larvae: A Case from Central Argentina

Life (Basel). 2022 Jun 29;12(7):974. doi: 10.3390/life12070974.


Immature stages of insects are vulnerable to various antagonists, including pathogens. While the abiotic factors affecting pathogen prevalence in insect populations are reasonably well documented, much less is known about relevant ecological interactions. We studied the probability of the larvae of three lepidopteran species to die from fungal infection as a function of insect species and food plants in central Argentina. Local free-growing food plants were used to feed the lepidopteran larvae. The prevalence of entomopathogenic fungi remained low (about 5%), which is a value well consistent with observations on similar systems in other regions. Eight fungal species recorded, primarily belonging to Fusarium and Aspergillus, add evidence to the reconsideration of the nutritional modes in these genera in distinguishing the role of some species (complexes) to cause insect infections. Food plant species were found to have a substantial effect on the prevalence of entomopathogenic fungi. This was especially clear for the most abundant fungal species, a representative of the Fusarium fujikuroi complex. Feeding on a particular plant taxon can thus have a specific fitness cost. Compared to the data collected from Northern Europe, the Argentinian assemblages from the families Aspergillaceae and Nectriaceae overlapped at the genus level but did not share species. It remains to be confirmed if this level of divergence in the composition of assemblages of entomopathogenic fungi among distant regions represents a global pattern.

PMID:35888064 | DOI:10.3390/life12070974

Source: Industry