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Elevational distribution and morphological attributes of the entomopathogenic fungi from forests of the Qinling Mountains in China

Abstract

Entomopathogenic fungi are considered to be a safe microbiological pesticide alternative to chemical control. Efforts are underway to understand precisely their taxonomy and natural distribution through mycological and biodiversity studies based on molecular markers. Here, we present descriptions of the diversity of the entomopathogenic fungi in the genera Metarhizium and Beauveria found along the elevational gradients of the Qinling subtropical and temperate forests of Shaanxi province in China, using morphological aspects and molecular markers. Molecular characterization using the Mz_IGS3 intergenic region revealed that Metarhizium isolates phylogenetically clustered in the PARB clade with four different distinguishable species, but the 5′-TEF gene allowed only ambiguous delimitation of Metarhizium species. Beauveria isolates were characterized by sequence analyses of the translation elongation factor 1-α and the Bloc region. The richness of Metarhizium species decreased with increasing elevation, with Metarhizium robertsii s.l. being the most abundant species along the elevational gradient. Our bioassay suggests that certain species of Metarhizium are significantly pathogenic to the insect model Tenebrio molitor at both the adult and larvae stages and could potentially serve as a control of insect pests of forests.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank team members from the Lab of Insect Related Resources (LIRR) who assisted during the forest survey. We are also grateful to Prof. Liang-jian Qu from the Chinese Academy of Forestry (CAF), Beijing, China, for providing the gypsy moth eggs and Dr. Lin Lv (Northwest A&F University) for the support using the advanced stereo microscope. The authors would like to thank Prof. John Richard Schrock (Emporia State University, USA) for scientific language editing of the whole manuscript. We gratefully acknowledge the critical reviews by the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments that helped strengthen the paper.

Funding

This study was supported by NSFC grant (31670659), Special Fund for Forest Scientific Research in the Public Welfare (201404403-09), and Shaanxi Provincial Science and Technology Innovation Project (2014KTCL02-14).

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Correspondence to Dun Wang.

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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

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Masoudi, A., Koprowski, J.l., Bhattarai, U.R. et al. Elevational distribution and morphological attributes of the entomopathogenic fungi from forests of the Qinling Mountains in China. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 102, 1483–1499 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00253-017-8651-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00253-017-8651-4

Keywords

  • Microbial ecology
  • Metarhizium
  • Beauveria
  • Pathogenicity
  • Molecular taxonomy
  • Microbial control