Growth of Metarhizium anisopliae on non-preferred carbon sources yields conidia with increased UV-B tolerance
Conidia of the insect-pathogenic fungus Metarhizium anisopliae var. anisopliae produced on different growth substrates (culture media or insect cadavers) demonstrate reproducibly altered tolerance to UV-B radiation [Rangel, D.E.N., Braga, G.U.L., Flint, S.D., Anderson, A.J., Roberts, D.W., 2004. Variations in UV-B tolerance and germination speed of M. anisopliae conidia produced on artificial and natural substrates. J. Invertebr. Pathol. 87, 77–83]. In the current study, the fungus was grown on potato dextrose agar with yeast extract (PDAY), on minimal medium [(MM) = Czapek medium without saccharose], or on MM with one of 16 different carbon sources. The conidia produced on these media were exposed to UV-B radiation. Great amplitude in phenotypic plasticity for UV-B tolerance was demonstrated, viz., conidia produced under nutritive stress [MM or MM supplemented with non-preferred carbon sources (e.g., fructose, galactose, lactose etc.)] had at least two times higher tolerance than conidia produced on the rich medium (PDAY). Endogenous trehalose and mannitol accumulated at least two times more in conidia produced on MM (or MM with lactose, a non-preferred carbon source), as compared to conidia from MM plus glucose. High accumulations of these two carbohydrates in fungal spores are known to protect them against a wide range of stresses. Sporulation, however, was most profuse on PDAY, second best on MM plus d-mannose and least on MM or MM containing non-preferred carbon sources. Taken together, the results illustrate that nutritive stress generated by MM or MM plus a non-preferred carbon source greatly improved UV-B tolerance, but reduced conidial yield; while, on the other hand, preferred carbon sources improved conidial yield, but reduced UV-B tolerance.