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Preventive application of an entomopathogenic fungus in cover crops for wireworm control

Rogge, Sina Alexandra, Mayerhofer, Johanna, Enkerli, Jürg, Bacher, Sven, Grabenweger, Giselher
BioControl 2017 v.62 no.5 pp. 613-623
Agriotes obscurus, Metarhizium brunneum, application rate, biological control, conidia, cover crops, entomopathogenic fungi, microsatellite repeats, mycoses, oats, potatoes, seeds, sowing, spring, summer, viability
Efficacy of the Metarhizium brunneum Petch (Hypocreales: Clavicipitaceae) strain ART2825 for control of wireworms (Agriotes obscurus (L.), Coleoptera: Elateridae) was examined in a semi-field pot experiment. Pots were treated in late summer during sowing of spring oat as a cover crop. Survival of wireworms was assessed four weeks after their release in October 2013, and 30 weeks after release in April 2014. Viability and persistence of the fungus was determined by counting colony forming units from substrate samples and microsatellite analyses of recovered Metarhizium isolates. The number of colonies detected in the substrate in October 2013 increased with increasing concentrations of applied conidia, and no significant reduction was observed at the second evaluation date in April 2014. Increasing conidia application rates significantly increased mycosis and reduced wireworm survival, to a level comparable to that of treatment using insecticide-coated oat seeds. The preventive application of M. brunneum conidia to reduce wireworm populations in cover crops, preceding a damage-sensitive crop like potatoes, may be a promising biocontrol strategy.