Pathogenicity and thermotolerance of entomopathogenic fungi for the control of the scab mite, Psoroptes ovis
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Psoroptes ovis is responsible for a highly contagious skin condition, both in sheep and cattle. This parasite has a marked economical impact in the sheep and cattle industry. Biological control is considered as a realistic alternative to chemotherapeutic control. Laboratory experiments were carried out to evaluate the pathogenicity and the thermotolerance of twelve isolates of entomopathogenic fungi from four genera (Beauveria Vuillemin, Metarhizium Sorokin, Paecilomyces Bainier and Verticillium Nees). The pathogenicity was evaluated by the survival of P. ovis females after exposure to 106 to 108 conidia ml−1 in humidity chambers. Results revealed intra- and interspecies differences. All isolates with the exception of B. bassiana IHEM3558 and V. lecanii MUCL8672 induced 50% mortality within 2 days at the highest concentration. At this concentration the entire mite population became infected with all isolates but B. bassiana IHEM3558; however, only four isolates gave rise to 100% infected cadavers at the lowest concentration. The thermotolerance of each isolate was evaluated by measuring its growth on an artificial medium kept between 25 and 37.5°C. All isolates were able to grow up to 30°C but only two, M. anisopliae IHEM18027 and Paecilomyces farinosus MUCL18885, tolerated temperatures up to 35°C. These two isolates could be considered as good candidates for further use as biopesticide taking into account their virulence and thermotolerance. Other critical factors linked with the implementation of this type of biocontrol in P. ovis infected animals are discussed.