Influence of growth environment on tolerance to UV-B radiation, germination speed and morphology of Metarhizium anisopliae var. acridum conidia.
We previously reported wide variability in UV-B tolerance among different Metarhizium anisopliae isolates [Braga, G.U.L., Flint, S.D., Miller, C.D., Anderson, A.J., Roberts, D.W., 2001a. Variability in response to UV-B among species and strains of Metarhizium isolated from sites at latitudes from 61 °N to 54 °S. J. Invertebr. Pathol. 78, 98–108] as well as wide phenotypic variability in some of these isolates in response to alterations in their growth environments [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]. Studies on other biological systems have demonstrated that strong selective pressure for tolerance to a stress factor may reduce the phenotypic variability of this trait. In the present study, conidia of the isolate most tolerant to radiation and heat, ARSEF 324, presented very little phenotypic variability in UV-B tolerance in response to production on either artificial culture medium or infected insects. The phenotypic plasticities in two other traits (conidial morphology and germination speed), however, were considerably higher.