An Intensive Search for Promising Fungal Biological Control Agents of Ticks, Particularly Rhipicephalus Microplus
Entomopathogenic fungi have been investigated worldwide as promising biological control agents of the cattle tick Rhipicephalus microplus. The current study evaluates the virulence of several fungal isolates to R. microplus larva in the laboratory as part of an effort to identify isolates with promise for effective biocontrol of R. microplus in the field. Sixty fungal isolates, encompassing 5 Beauveria spp. and 1 Engyodontium albus (=Beauveria alba), were included in this study. In addition to bioassays, the isolates were characterized morphologically and investigated as to their potential for conidial mass production. These findings were correlated with previous reports on the same fungal isolates of their natural UV-B tolerance (Fernandes et al., 2007), thermotolerance and cold activity (Fernandes et al., 2008), and genotypes (Fernandes et al., 2009). R. microplus larvae obtained from artificially infested calves were less susceptible to Beauveria bassiana infection than ticks acquired from naturally infested cattle from a different location. Isolates CG 464, CG 500 and CG 206 were among the most virulent Beauveria isolates tested in this study. All fungal isolates presented morphological features consistent with their species descriptions. Of the 53 B. bassiana isolates, five (CG 481, CG 484, CG 206, CG 235 and CG 487) had characteristics that qualified them as promising candidates for biological control agents of R. microplus, viz., mean LC50 between 107 and 108 conidia ml−1; produced 5000 conidia or more on 60 mm2 surface area of PDAY medium; and, in comparison to untreated (control) conidia, had the best conidial tolerances to UV-B (7.04 kJ m−2) and heat (45 °C, 2 h) of 50% or higher, and conidial cold (5 °C, 15 d) activity (mycelial growth) higher than 60%. The current study of 60 Beauveria spp. isolates, therefore, singles out a few (five) with high potential for controlling ticks under field conditions.
Fernandes, E.K.K., I.C. Angelo, D.E.N. Rangel, T.C. Bahiense, A.M.L. Moraes, D.W. Roberts and V. R.E.P. Bittencourt. 2011. An intensive search for promising fungal biological control agents of ticks, particularly Rhipicephalus microplus. Veterinary Parasitilogy 182: 307-318. DOI: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2011.05.046.