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Exploiting the genetic diversity of Beauveria bassiana for improving the biological control of the coffee berry borer through the use of strain mixtures

Abstract

Beauveria bassiana is an entomopathogen widely used to control the coffee berry borer in Colombia, as part of an Integrated Pest Management strategy. Traditionally, the development of fungal insect pathogens as biocontrol agents in crop pests has been oriented towards the selection and formulation of elite clonal strains. Instead, we explored the potential application of genetic diversity in B. bassiana by determining the effect of strain mixtures on coffee berry borer mortality compared to clonal isolates. Genomic DNA from 11 strains was characterized using internal transcribed spacers and β-tubulin sequences as well as amplified fragment length polymorphism markers. Cluster analysis produced three genetic groups and confirmed the low but significant intraspecific genetic diversity present among the strains. Single strain virulence towards the coffee berry borer under laboratory conditions, using 1×106 conidia ml−1, ranged between 89.9 and 57.5%. All the inoculations with mixtures resulted in coinfection events. Combinations of genetically similar strains showed no significant differences when their virulences were compared. However, mixtures of genetically different strains led to both antagonism and synergism. The lowest virulence percentage (57%) was obtained by putting together the most virulent strain of each group, contrary to the highest virulence percentage (93%) that resulted from mixing the three least virulent strains. The results indicate the promising potential of designing strain mixtures as an alternative for the biocontrol of Hypothenemus hampei and other pests and provide tools for the understanding of the ecological dynamics of entomopathogen populations under natural conditions.

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Acknowledgements

We acknowledge Dr. Esther Cecilia Montoya for the statistical support and Diana Giraldo for the technical assistance during the pathogenicity assays. This research was supported by the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia.

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Correspondence to Carmenza E. Gongora.

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Cruz, L.P., Gaitan, A.L. & Gongora, C.E. Exploiting the genetic diversity of Beauveria bassiana for improving the biological control of the coffee berry borer through the use of strain mixtures. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 71, 918–926 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00253-005-0218-0

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Keywords

  • Internal Transcribe Spacer
  • Amplify Fragment Length Polymorphism
  • Biological Control Agent
  • Entomopathogenic Fungus
  • Coffee Berry