Root inoculation of strawberry with the entomopathogenic fungi Metarhizium robertsii and Beauveria bassiana reduces incidence of the twospotted spider mite and selected insect pests and plant diseases in the field

  • Fernanda Canassa
  • Fernanda C. N. Esteca
  • Rafael A. Moral
  • Nicolai V. Meyling
  • Ingeborg Klingen
  • Italo DelaliberaEmail author
Original Paper


The effect of inoculation of strawberry roots by two entomopathogenic fungal isolates, Metarhizium robertsii (ESALQ 1622) and Beauveria bassiana (ESALQ 3375), on naturally occurring arthropod pests and plant diseases was investigated in four commercial strawberry fields during two growing seasons in Brazil. Three locations represented open-field production while strawberries were grown in low tunnels at the fourth location. Population responses of predatory mites to the fungal treatments were also assessed. Plants inoculated by the fungal isolates resulted in significantly fewer Tetranychus urticae adults compared to control plants at all four locations. The mean cumulative numbers ± SE of T. urticae per leaflet were: M. robertsii (225.6 ± 59.32), B. bassiana (206.5 ± 51.48) and control (534.1 ± 115.55) at the three open-field locations, while at the location with tunnels numbers were: M. robertsii (79.7 ± 10.02), B. bassiana (107.7 ± 26.85) and control (207.4 ± 49.90). Plants treated with B. bassiana had 50% fewer leaves damaged by Coleoptera, while there were no effects on numbers of whiteflies and thrips. Further, lower proportions of leaflets with symptoms of the foliar plant pathogenic fungi Mycosphaerella fragariae and Pestalotia longisetula were observed in the M. robertsii (4.6% and 1.3%)- and B. bassiana (6.1% and 1.3%)-treated plots compared to control plots (9.8% and 3.7%). No effect was seen on numbers of naturally occurring predatory mites. Our results suggest that both isolates tested may be used as root inoculants of strawberries to protect against foliar pests, particularly spider mites, and also against foliar plant pathogenic fungi without harming naturally occurring and beneficial predatory mites.


Endophytic entomopathogenic fungi Microbial control Plant–microbe interactions Tetranychus urticae Integrated pest management (IPM) 



Daniela Milanez Silva and Vitor Isaias da Silva are thanked for technical assistance. We thank the strawberry producers Claudio Donizete dos Santos, Rafael Maziero, Mario Inui and Maurício dos Santos for letting us perform the experiments in their fields. We also thank Dr. Fagoni Fayer Calegario for helping to find the farmers and for introducing them to us. Dr. Geovanny Barroso is thanked for helping with the predatory mite identification.


This work was supported by the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) [Process No. 141373/2015-6] and by The Research Council of Norway through the SMARTCROP Project [Project Number 244526]. A 3-month student mission travel Grant to Norway was funded by CAPES (Project Number 88881.117865/2016-01) and SIU (Project Number UTF-2016-long-term-/10070).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Entomology and Acarology“Luiz de Queiroz” College of Agriculture/University of São Paulo (ESALQ/USP)PiracicabaBrazil
  2. 2.Department of Plant and Environmental SciencesUniversity of CopenhagenFrederiksberg CDenmark
  3. 3.Biotechnology and Plant Health DivisionNorwegian Institute of Bioeconomy (NIBIO)ÅsNorway
  4. 4.Department of Mathematics and StatisticsMaynooth UniversityMaynoothIreland

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