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Invertebrate pathogenic bacteria and fungi

Insektenpathogener Pilz Cordyceps fumosorosea auf Naehrmedium
Entomopathogenic fungus Cordyceps fumosorosea on artificial medium © D. Stephan/JKI

Bacteria: Strains of the ubiquitously occurring entomopathogenic bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (B.t.) are the most widely used microorganisms applied as biocontrol agents worldwide. B.t. has been used for decades to control agricultural and forest insect pests. It is a gram-positive endospore forming bacterium. During the sporulation phase a crystalline protein – the so called delta-endotoxin – is formed. After its ingestion by susceptible insect larvae, the protein is activated and lyses the intestine epithelial cells followed by the death of the insect. The three most important insect groups, which can be controlled by B.t. are Lepidoptera, Coleoptera and Diptera. We are working on the application and investigate the environmental fate of this bacterium.

Invertebrate pathogenic fungi are divers with regard to occurrence and effect. At present, only a limited number of insect pathogenic genera like Isaria (formerly Paecilomyces), Beauveria, Metarhizium, Lecanicillium (formerly Verticillium) and nematode pathogenic genus Clonostachys are used for microbial control. The mode of action of the entomopathogenic fungal genera is very similar. After fungal spores are exposed to the host, they germinate and penetrate the cuticle. Afterwards, the fungi multiply in the insect and view days later the insect dies. Under sufficient environmental conditions, the fungus sporulate on the surface of the insect and secondary infection can occur. For us, it is important to understand the infection process, the high host selectivity and as well their occurrence in agro-eocsystems, that these fungi can be specifically utilized for biocontrol.

Important projects

  • BioEntosource
  • MykoNem
  • IPM-4-Citrus

Scientists involved
Dr. Dietrich Stephan
Tanja Bernhardt
Maximilian Paluch
Nushrat Harun Antara