Variations in UV-B tolerance and germination speed of Metarhizium anisopliae conidia produced on insects and artificial substrates
Solar ultraviolet radiation (UV-A and UV-B) is a major factor in failure of programs using the insect pathogenic fungus Metarhizium anisopliae as a biological control agent. Studies were conducted to determine if growth conditions, viz. artificial (agar media or rice grain) or natural (infected insects) substrates for conidial production affect two traits that directly influence performance of conidia after field application: tolerance to UV-B radiation and conidial germination speed. Conidia of two isolates (ARSEF 23 and ARSEF 2575) of M. anisopliae var. anisopliae produced on potato dextrose agar plus yeast extract (PDAY) or on fungus-killed larvae of two insect species, Galleria mellonella and Zophobas morio, were inactivated by exposure to UV-B radiation. Conidia of both isolates when produced on insect cadavers were significantly more sensitive to UV-B radiation than conidia produced on PDAY. Also, conidia from insect cadavers germinated slower than those from PDAY cultures. A comparison of conidia from artificial substrates showed that conidia produced on Czapek’s and Emerson’s YpSs agar media or rice grains had higher tolerance to UV-B radiation and germinated faster than conidia raised on PDA and PDAY. Accordingly, the growth substrate and nutritional environment in which conidia are produced influences M. anisopliae conidial UV-B tolerance and speed of germination; and manipulation of these variables could be used to obtain conidia with increased tolerance to UV-B radiation and shorter germination times.