Conidial pigmentation is important to tolerance against solar-simulated radiation in the entomopathogenic fungus Metarhizium anisopliae
The importance of conidial pigmentation to solar UV radiation tolerance in the entomopathogenic fungus Metarhizium anisopliae var. anisopliae, was estimated by comparing the effects of exposure to simulated solar UV radiation on the wild-type parent strain U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)–Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Collection of Entomopathogenic Fungal Cultures (ARSEF) 23, which has dark green conidia, and three groups of color mutants with yellow, purple and white conidia. The comparisons included inactivation levels and the kinetics of germination of conidia exposed or not exposed to simulated solar UV radiation. In addition to significantly inactivating the conidia of different mutants, exposure to radiation delayed for several hours the germination of surviving conidia of the wild type and all mutants. In general, mutants with white conidia were more sensitive to simulated solar UV radiation than mutants with purple conidia, which were more sensitive than mutants with yellow conidia, which in turn were more sensitive than the green wild strain. A significant variation in tolerance to simulated solar radiation was observed among mutants within each color group, particularly among mutants with yellow conidia. Revertants with green conidia, DWR 179 and DWR 176, were obtained from the very sensitive UV mutants DWR 148 (yellow conidia) and DWR 149 (purple conidia), respectively. These revertants had levels of tolerance to simulated solar UV radiation similar to those of the wild-type ARSEF 23. This observation is strong evidence of the importance of green conidial pigmentation for tolerance to simulated solar UV radiation, a factor that could be manipulated to produce M. anisopliae strains with more tolerance to solar UV radiation.