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Distribution of Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. israelensis in Soil of a Swiss Wetland Reserve after 22 Years of Mosquito Control

Guidi, Valeria, Patocchi, Nicola, Lüthy, Peter, Tonolla, Mauro
Applied and environmental microbiology 2011 v.77 no.11 pp. 3663-3668
Aedes vexans, Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. israelensis, confidence interval, floods, genes, mosquito control, polymerase chain reaction, quantitative analysis, soil sampling, spores, wetland soils, wetlands, Switzerland
Recurrent treatments with Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. israelensis are required to control the floodwater mosquito Aedes vexans that breeds in large numbers in the wetlands of the Bolle di Magadino Reserve in Canton Ticino, Switzerland. Interventions have been carried out since 1988. In the present study, the spatial distribution of resting B. thuringiensis subsp. israelensis spores in the soil was measured. The B. thuringiensis subsp. israelensis concentration was determined in soil samples collected along six transects covering different elevations within the periodically flooded zones. A total of 258 samples were processed and analyzed by quantitative PCR that targeted an identical fragment of 159 bp for the B. thuringiensis subsp. israelensis cry4Aa and cry4Ba genes. B. thuringiensis subsp. israelensis spores were found to persist in soils of the wetland reserve at concentrations of up to 6.8 log per gram of soil. Continuous accumulation due to regular treatments could be excluded, as the decrease in spores amounted to 95.8% (95% confidence interval, 93.9 to 97.7%). The distribution of spores was correlated to the number of B. thuringiensis subsp. israelensis treatments, the elevation of the sampling point, and the duration of the flooding periods. The number of B. thuringiensis subsp. israelensis treatments was the major factor influencing the distribution of spores in the different topographic zones (P < 0.0001). These findings indicated that B. thuringiensis subsp. israelensis spores are rather immobile after their introduction into the environment.