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Niche separation of species of entomopathogenic fungi within the genera Metarhizium and Beauveria in different cropping systems in Mexico

Cabrera-Mora, J.A., Guzmán-Franco, A.W., Santillán-Galicia, M.T., Tamayo-Mejía, F.
Fungal ecology 2019 v.39 pp. 349-355
Beauveria bassiana, Galleria mellonella, Metarhizium anisopliae, Metarhizium brunneum, Metarhizium robertsii, Phyllophaga, baiting, cropping systems, ecological differentiation, entomopathogenic fungi, genetic variation, haplotypes, insect larvae, niches, peptide elongation factors, provenance, soil, soil ecosystems, species diversity, Mexico
Entomopathogenic fungi from the genera Beauveria and Metarhizium, were isolated from soil using the Galleria mellonella baiting method, and from infected white grub larvae from a diversity of cropping systems in Puebla and Guanajuato, Mexico. Isolates were identified to species level using Bloc and Elongation Factor 1-α sequence information. Although widespread, Beauveria bassiana (41 isolates) was only isolated from soil and not from infected white grubs. In contrast, Beauveria pseudobassiana (six isolates) was predominantly isolated from white grub larvae (only one isolate from soil). Haplotype analysis of B. bassiana Bloc sequences identified 25 haplotypes indicating substantial genetic diversity; neither geographical origin nor crop type explained this genetic variation. Metarhizium brunneum (three isolates) and Metarhizium robertsii (17 isolates) were also only isolated from soil, while Metarhizium anisopliae (six isolates) and Metarhizium pingshaense (four isolates) were only isolated from white grub larvae. M. anisopliae was only found infecting Paranomala species while M. pingshaense was only found infecting Phyllophaga species. Species diversity in Metarhizium was influenced by crop type. Our results showed that entomopathogenic fungi species could co-exist in the same soil ecosystem but in separate niches. The potential ecological roles of these species are discussed.