Cold activity of Beauveria and Metarhizium, and thermotolerance of Beauveria
Heat and cold are environmental abiotic factors that restrict the use of entomopathogenic fungi as agents for biological control of insects. The thermotolerance and cold activity of 60 entomopathogenic fungal isolates, including five species of Beauveria and one isolate of Engyodontium albus (=Beauveria alba) were examined as to tolerance of temperatures that might be encountered during field use. In addition, cold activity of eight Metarhizium spp. isolates was evaluated. The isolates were from various geographic regions, arthropod hosts or substrates. High variability in conidial thermotolerance was found among the Beauveria spp. isolates after exposure to 45 °C for 2 h, as evidenced by low (0–20%), medium (20–60%), or high germination (60–80%). The thermal death point (0% germination) for three rather thermotolerant B. bassiana isolates (CG 138, GHA and ARSEF 252) was 46 °C for 6 h. At low temperatures (5 °C), with few exceptions (e.g. CG 66, UFPE 479, CG 227, CG 02), most of the B. bassiana isolates germinated well (ca. 100%). On the other hand, only one isolate of Metarhizium sp. was cold-active (i.e. ARSEF 4343 from Macquarie Island, 54.4°S, Australia). This probably is a M. frigidum isolate. The E. albus isolate (UFPE 3138) was the most susceptible isolate to both heat and cold stress. Isolates ARSEF 252 and GHA of B. bassiana, on the other hand, presented exceptionally high thermotolerance and cold activity. Some isolates with high cold activity, however, were thermosensitive (e.g. ARSEF 1682) and others with high thermotolerance had low cold activity (e.g. CG 227). An attempt to correlate the latitude of origin with thermotolerance or cold activity indicated that B. bassiana isolates from higher latitudes were more cold-active than isolates from nearer the equator, but there was not a similar correlation for heat.