Aspergillus fumigatus, a filamentous fungus producing bluish-green conidia, is an important opportunistic pathogen that primarily affects immunocompromised patients. Conidial pigmentation of A. fumigatus significantly influences its virulence in a murine model. In the present study, six genes, forming a gene cluster spanning 19 kb, were identified as involved in conidial pigment biosynthesis in A. fumigatus. Northern blot analyses showed the six genes to be developmentally regulated and expressed during conidiation. The gene products of alb1 (for “albino 1”), arp1 (for “aspergillus reddish-pink 1”), and arp2 have high similarity to polyketide synthases, scytalone dehydratases, and hydroxynaphthalene reductases, respectively, found in the dihydroxynaphthalene (DHN)-melanin pathway of brown and black fungi. The abr1 gene (for “aspergillus brown 1”) encodes a putative protein possessing two signatures of multicopper oxidases. The abr2 gene product has homology to the laccase encoded by the yA gene of Aspergillus nidulans. The function of ayg1 (for “aspergillus yellowish-green 1”) remains unknown. Involvement of the six genes in conidial pigmentation was confirmed by the altered conidial color phenotypes that resulted from disruption of each gene in A. fumigatus. The presence of a DHN-melanin pathway in A. fumigatus was supported by the accumulation of scytalone and flaviolin in the arp1 deletant, whereas only flaviolin was accumulated in the arp2 deletants. Scytalone and flaviolin are well-known signature metabolites of the DHN-melanin pathway. Based on DNA sequence similarity, gene disruption results, and biochemical analyses, we conclude that the 19-kb DNA fragment contains a six-gene cluster which is required for conidial pigment biosynthesis in A. fumigatus. However, the presence of abr1, abr2, and ayg1 in addition to alb1, arp1, and arp2 suggests that conidial pigment biosynthesis in A. fumigatus is more complex than the known DHN-melanin pathway.
The opportunistic human pathogenic fungus Aspergillus fumigatus produces at least two types of melanin, namely pyomelanin and dihydroxynaphthalene (DHN) melanin. Pyomelanin is produced during tyrosine catabolism via accumulation of homogentisic acid. Although pyomelanin protects the fungus against reactive oxygen species (ROS) and acts as a defense compound in response to cell wall stress, mutants deficient for pyomelanin biosynthesis do not differ in virulence when tested in a murine infection model for invasive pulmonary aspergillosis. DHN melanin is responsible for the characteristic gray-greenish color of A. fumigatus conidia. Mutants lacking a functional polyketide synthase PksP, the enzyme responsible for the initial step in DHN-melanin formation, i.e., the synthesis of naphthopyrone, produce white spores and are attenuated in virulence. The activity of PksP was found to be essential not only for inhibition of apoptosis of phagocytes by interfering with the host PI3K/Akt signaling cascade but also for effective inhibition of acidification of conidia-containing phagolysosomes. These features allow A. fumigatus to survive in phagocytes and thereby to escape from human immune effector cells and to become a successful pathogen.
Aspergillus fumigatus; melanin; virulence; apoptosis; phagocytes; endocytosis
The entomopathogenic fungus Metarhizium acridum has been used as an important biocontrol agent instead of insecticides for controlling crop pests throughout the world. However, its virulence varies with environmental factors, especially temperature. Neutral trehalase (Ntl) hydrolyzes trehalose, which plays a role in environmental stress response in many organisms, including M. acridum. Demonstration of a relationship between Ntl and thermotolerance or virulence may offer a new strategy for enhancing conidiospore thermotolerance of entomopathogenic fungi through genetic engineering.
We selected four Ntl over-expression and four Ntl RNA interference (RNAi) transformations in which Ntl expression is different. Compared to the wild-type, Ntl mRNA expression was reduced to 35-66% in the RNAi mutants and increased by 2.5-3.5-fold in the over-expression mutants. The RNAi conidiospores exhibited less trehalase activity, accumulated more trehalose, and were much more tolerant of heat stress than the wild-type. The opposite effects were found in conidiospores of over-expression mutants compared to RNAi mutants. Furthermore, virulence was not altered in the two types of mutants compared to the wild type.
Ntl controlled trehalose accumulation in M. acridum by degrading trehalose, and thus affected conidiospore thermotolerance. These results offer a new strategy for enhancing conidiospore thermotolerance of entomopathogenic fungi without affecting virulence.
The yeast Torula corallina is a strong erythritol producer that is used in the industrial production of erythritol. However, melanin accumulation during culture represents a serious problem for the purification of erythritol from the fermentation broth. Melanin biosynthesis inhibitors such as 3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine and 1,8-dihydroxynaphthalene (DHN)-melanin inhibitors were added to the T. corallina cultures. Only the DHN-melanin inhibitors showed an effect on melanin production, which suggests that the melanin formed during the culturing of T. corallina is derived from DHN. This finding was confirmed by the detection of a shunt product of the pentaketide pathway, flaviolin, and elemental analysis. Among the DHN-melanin inhibitors, tricyclazole was the most effective. Supplementation with tricyclazole enhanced the production of erythritol while significantly inhibiting the production of DHN-melanin and DHN-melanin biosynthetic enzymes, such as trihydroxynaphthalene reductase. The erythrose reductase from T. corallina was purified to homogeneity by ion-exchange and affinity chromatography. Purified erythrose reductase was significantly inhibited in vitro in a noncompetitive manner by elevated levels of DHN-melanin. In contrast, the level of erythrose reductase activity was unaffected by increasing concentrations of tricyclazole. These results suggest that supplemental tricyclazole reduces the production of DHN-melanin, which may lead to a reduction in the inhibition of erythrose reductase and a higher yield of erythritol. This is the first report to demonstrate that melanin biosynthesis inhibitors increase the production of a sugar alcohol in T. corallina.
The filamentous fungus Alternaria alternata produces melanin, a black pigment, from acetate via 1,8-dihydroxynaphthalene. To isolate a fungal gene required for melanin biosynthesis, we transformed an A. alternata Brm1- (light brown) mutant with the DNA of a wild-type strain genomic library constructed by use of a cosmid carrying the hygromycin B phosphotransferase gene. When hygromycin B-resistant transformants were screened for melanin production, 1 of 1,363 transformants appeared to regain melanin production, as judged by black pigmentation of the cultured mycelia. The cosmid, named pMBR1, was recovered by packaging nuclear DNA of the melanin-producing transformant into lambda phage. The gene on pMBR1 that enables the Brm1- mutant to produce melanin was designated BRM1. In addition to the BRM1 gene, pMBR1 was found to carry two more genes involved in melanin biosynthesis. These two genes, designated ALM and BRM2, transformed A. alternata Alm- (albino) and Brm2- (brown) mutants, respectively, to the wild-type phenotype. The three genes are located within a ca. 30-kb genomic region in the order ALM-BRM1-BRM2. Analysis of the gene transcripts indicated approximate sizes of 7.2, 4.0, and 0.9 kb for ALM, BRM1, and BRM2, respectively. The BRM1 and BRM2 transcripts are generated from the same strand, but the ALM transcript is generated from the opposite strand. The three mRNA species accumulate in cultured mycelia of the wild-type strain synchronously with mycelial melanization. The essential roles of the three genes in melanin biosynthesis were confirmed by transformation-mediated gene disruption experiments.
The recent outbreak of bluetongue virus in northern Europe has led to an urgent need to identify control measures for the Culicoides (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) biting midges that transmit it. Following successful use of the entomopathogenic fungus Metarhizium anisopliae against larval stages of biting midge Culicoides nubeculosus Meigen, we investigated the efficacy of this strain and other fungi (Beauveria bassiana, Isaria fumosorosea and Lecanicillium longisporum) as biocontrol agents against adult C. nubeculosus in laboratory and greenhouse studies.
Exposure of midges to ‘dry’ conidia of all fungal isolates caused significant reductions in survival compared to untreated controls. Metarhizium anisopliae strain V275 was the most virulent, causing a significantly decrease in midge survival compared to all other fungal strains tested. The LT50 value for strain V275 was 1.42 days compared to 2.21–3.22 days for the other isolates. The virulence of this strain was then further evaluated by exposing C. nubeculosus to varying doses (108–1011 conidia m−2) using different substrates (horse manure, damp peat, leaf litter) as a resting site. All exposed adults were found to be infected with the strain V275 four days after exposure. A further study exposed C. nubeculosus adults to ‘dry’ conidia and ‘wet’ conidia (conidia suspended in 0.03% aq. Tween 80) of strain V275 applied to damp peat and leaf litter in cages within a greenhouse. ‘Dry’ conidia were more effective than ‘wet’ conidia, causing 100% mortality after 5 days.
This is the first study to demonstrate that entomopathogenic fungi are potential biocontrol agents against adult Culicoides, through the application of ‘dry’ conidia on surfaces (e.g., manure, leaf litter, livestock) where the midges tend to rest. Subsequent conidial transmission between males and females may cause an increased level of fungi-induced mortality in midges thus reducing the incidence of disease.
1,8-Dihydroxynaphthalene (1,8-DHN) is a fungal polyketide that contributes to virulence when polymerized to 1,8-DHN melanin in the cell walls of Wangiella dermatitidis, an agent of phaeohyphomycosis in humans. To begin a genetic analysis of the initial synthetic steps leading to 1,8-DHN melanin biosynthesis, a 772-bp PCR product was amplified from genomic DNA using primers based on conserved regions of fungal polyketide synthases (Pks) known to produce the first cyclized 1,8-DHN-melanin pathway intermediate, 1,3,6,8-tetrahydroxynaphthalene. The cloned PCR product was then used as a targeting sequence to disrupt the putative polyketide synthase gene, WdPKS1, in W. dermatitidis. The resulting wdpks1Δ disruptants showed no morphological defects other than an albino phenotype and grew at the same rate as their black wild-type parent. Using a marker rescue approach, the intact WdPKS1 gene was then successfully recovered from two plasmids. The WdPKS1 gene was also isolated independently by complementation of the mel3 mutation in an albino mutant of W. dermatitidis using a cosmid library. Sequence analysis substantiated that WdPKS1 encoded a putative polyketide synthase (WdPks1p) in a single open reading frame consisting of three exons separated by two short introns. This conclusion was supported by the identification of highly conserved Pks domains for a β-ketoacyl synthase, an acetyl-malonyl transferase, two acyl carrier proteins, and a thioesterase in the deduced amino acid sequence. Studies using a neutrophil killing assay and a mouse acute-infection model confirmed that all wdpks1Δ strains were less resistant to killing and less virulent, respectively, than their wild-type parent. Reconstitution of 1,8-DHN melanin biosynthesis in a wdpks1Δ strain reestablished its resistance to killing by neutrophils and its ability to cause fatal mouse infections.
Extracellular chitinases have been suggested to be virulence factors in fungal entomopathogenicity. We employed isoelectric focusing and a set of three fluorescent substrates to investigate the numbers and types of chitinolytic enzymes produced by the entomopathogenic fungi Metarhizium anisopliae, Metarhizium flavoviride, and Beauveria bassiana. Each species produced a variety of N-acetyl-(beta)-d-glucosaminidases and endochitinases during growth in media containing insect cuticle. M. flavoviride also produced 1,4-(beta)-chitobiosidases. The endochitinases could be divided according to whether they had basic or acidic isoelectric points. In contrast to those of the other two species, the predominant endochitinases of M. anisopliae were acidic, with isoelectric points of about 4.8. Sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis resolved the acidic chitinases of M. anisopliae into two major bands (43.5 and 45 kDa) with identical N-terminal sequences (AGGYVNAVYFY TNGLYLSNYQPA) similar to an endochitinase from the mycoparasite Trichoderma harzianum. Use of polyclonal antibodies to the 45-kDa isoform and ultrastructural immunocytochemistry enabled us to visualize chitinase production during penetration of the host (Manduca sexta) cuticle. Chitinase was produced at very low levels by infection structures on the cuticle surface and during the initial penetration of the cuticle, but much greater levels of chitinase accumulated in zones of proteolytic degradation, which suggests that the release of the chitinase is dependent on the accessibility of its substrate.
The pathogenic fungus Fonsecaea pedrosoi constitutively produces the pigment melanin, an important virulence factor in fungi. Melanin is incorporated in the cell wall structure and provides chemical and physical protection for the fungus.
We evaluated the production of nitric oxide (NO) in macrophages, the oxidative burst and the inducible nitric oxide synthase (i-NOS) activity in interactions between activated murine macrophages and F. pedrosoi. Experiments were carried out with or without tricyclazole (TC) treatment, a selective inhibitor of the dihydroxynaphthalene (DHN)-melanin biosynthesis pathway in F. pedrosoi. The paramagnetisms of melanin and the TC-melanin were analysed by electron spin resonance. The fungal growth responses to H2O2 and to S-nitroso-N-acetylpenicillamine (SNAP), a nitric oxide donor, were also evaluated.
Melanised F. pedrosoi cells were more resistant to both H2O2 and NO. Nitrite was not detected in the supernatant of macrophages incubated with melanised fungal cells. However, i-NOS expression was unaffected by the presence of either untreated control F. pedrosoi or TC-treated F. pedrosoi. In addition, the inhibition of the DHN-melanin pathway by TC improved the oxidative burst capability of the macrophages.
The NO-trapping ability of F. pedrosoi melanin is an important mechanism to escape the oxidative burst of macrophages.
Insecticide resistance is seriously undermining efforts to eliminate malaria. In response, research on alternatives to the use of chemical insecticides against adult mosquito vectors has been increasing. Fungal entomopathogens formulated as biopesticides have received much attention and have shown considerable potential. This research has necessarily focused on relatively few fungal isolates in order to ‘prove concept’. Further, most attention has been paid to examining fungal virulence (lethality) and not the other properties of fungal infection that might also contribute to reducing transmission potential. Here, a range of fungal isolates were screened to examine variation in virulence and how this relates to additional pre-lethal reductions in feeding propensity.
The Asian malaria vector, Anopheles stephensi was exposed to 17 different isolates of entomopathogenic fungi belonging to species of Beauveria bassiana, Metarhizium anisopliae, Metarhizium acridum and Isaria farinosus. Each isolate was applied to a test substrate at a standard dose rate of 1×109 spores ml-1 and the mosquitoes exposed for six hours. Subsequently the insects were removed to mesh cages where survival was monitored over the next 14 days. During this incubation period the mosquitoes’ propensity to feed was assayed for each isolate by offering a feeding stimulant at the side of the cage and recording the number probing.
Results and conclusions
Fungal isolates showed a range of virulence to A. stephensi with some causing >80% mortality within 7 days, while others caused little increase in mortality relative to controls over the study period. Similarly, some isolates had a large impact on feeding propensity, causing >50% pre-lethal reductions in feeding rate, whereas other isolates had very little impact. There was clear correlation between fungal virulence and feeding reduction with virulence explaining nearly 70% of the variation in feeding reduction. However, there were some isolates where either feeding decline was not associated with high virulence, or virulence did not automatically prompt large declines in feeding. These results are discussed in the context of choosing optimum fungal isolates for biopesticide development.
Entomopathogenic fungi are being investigated as a new mosquito control tool because insecticide resistance is preventing successful mosquito control in many countries, and new methods are required that can target insecticide-resistant malaria vectors. Although laboratory studies have previously examined the effects of entomopathogenic fungi against adult mosquitoes, most application methods used cannot be readily deployed in the field. Because the fungi are biological organisms it is important to test potential field application methods that will not adversely affect them. The two objectives of this study were to investigate any differences in fungal susceptibility between an insecticide-resistant and insecticide-susceptible strain of Anopheles gambiae sensu stricto, and to test a potential field application method with respect to the viability and virulence of two fungal species
Pieces of white polyester netting were dipped in Metarhizium anisopliae ICIPE-30 or Beauveria bassiana IMI391510 mineral oil suspensions. These were kept at 27 ± 1°C, 80 ± 10% RH and the viability of the fungal conidia was recorded at different time points. Tube bioassays were used to infect insecticide-resistant (VKPER) and insecticide-susceptible (SKK) strains of An. gambiae s.s., and survival analysis was used to determine effects of mosquito strain, fungus species or time since fungal treatment of the net.
The resistant VKPER strain was significantly more susceptible to fungal infection than the insecticide-susceptible SKK strain. Furthermore, B. bassiana was significantly more virulent than M. anisopliae for both mosquito strains, although this may be linked to the different viabilities of these fungal species. The viability of both fungal species decreased significantly one day after application onto polyester netting when compared to the viability of conidia remaining in suspension.
The insecticide-resistant mosquito strain was susceptible to both species of fungus indicating that entomopathogenic fungi can be used in resistance management and integrated vector management programmes to target insecticide-resistant mosquitoes. Although fungal viability significantly decreased when applied to the netting, the effectiveness of the fungal treatment at killing mosquitoes did not significantly deteriorate. Field trials over a longer trial period need to be carried out to verify whether polyester netting is a good candidate for operational use, and to see if wild insecticide-resistant mosquitoes are as susceptible to fungal infection as the VKPER strain.
Dengue is a viral disease transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. It is a threat for public health worldwide and its primary vector Aedes aegypti is becoming resistant to chemical insecticides. These factors have encouraged studies to evaluate entomopathogenic fungi against the vector. Here we evaluated mortality, infection, insemination and fecundity rates in A. aegypti females after infection by autodissemination with two Mexican strains of Metarhizium anisopliae.
Two M. anisopliae strains were tested: The Ma-CBG-1 least virulent (lv), and the Ma-CBG-2 highly virulent (hv) strain. The lv was tested as non mosquito-passed (NMP), and mosquito-passed (MP), while the hv was examined only as MP version, therefore including the control four treatments were used. In the first bioassay virulence of fungal strains towards female mosquitoes was determined by indirect exposure for 48 hours to conidia-impregnated paper. In the second bioassay autodissemination of fungal conidia from fungus-contaminated males to females was evaluated. Daily mortality allowed computation of survival curves and calculation of the LT50 by the Kaplan-Meier model. All combinations of fungal sporulation and mating insemination across the four treatments were analyzed by χ2. The mean fecundity was analyzed by ANOVA and means contrasted with the Ryan test.
Indirect exposure to conidia allowed a faster rate of mortality, but exposure to a fungal-contaminated male was also an effective method of infecting female mosquitoes. All females confined with the hv strain-contaminated male died in fifteen days with a LT50 of 7.57 (± 0.45) where the control was 24.82 (± 0.92). For the lv strain, it was possible to increase fungal virulence by passing the strain through mosquitoes. 85% of females exposed to hv-contaminated males became infected and of them just 10% were inseminated; control insemination was 46%. The hv strain reduced fecundity by up to 99%, and the lv strain caused a 40% reduction in fecundity.
The hv isolate infringed a high mortality, allowed a low rate of insemination, and reduced fecundity to nearly zero in females confined with a fungus-contaminated male. This pathogenic impact exerted through sexual transmission makes the hv strain of M. anisopliae worthy of further research.
autodissemination; sexual transmission; mating behavior; vector; virulence; Aedes aegypti; Metarhizium anisopliae
The planthopper Peregrinus maidis (Ashmead) (Hemiptera: Delphacidae) is an important vector of maize viruses in tropical and subtropical areas. Planthoppers are biologically controlled with several species of entomopathogenic fungi that have been isolated from these insect pests of rice in Asia. Beauveria bassiana (Balsamo-Crivelli) Vuillemin and Metarhizium anisopliae (Metschnikoff) Sorokin (Hypocreales: Clavicipitaceae) appear to be the most useful against planthoppers because of their ease of mass production, storage, virulence, and application. In the present study, adults of P. maidis infected with B. bassiana and M. anisopliae were observed under light and scanning electron microscopy to characterize morphologically the process of infection and the development of these fungi, prior to and after the death of the host. The hydrophobic conidia of both fungal species were able to attach to all body regions, with a preference for surfaces containing hairs. Few germinated conidia were observed on the insect's body surface at 24, 48, and 72 hr post-inoculation. On the cuticular surface of P. maidis treated with B. bassiana and M. anisopliae, bacillus-like bacteria were observed. These microorganisms could be interacting with fungal conidia, playing a role of antibiosis that will not allow the fungal pathogens to germinate and penetrate. In the colonization events observed in this study, the formation and multiplication of hyphal bodies by both fungal species inside the host's body was noted. The host's whole body was invaded by hyphae between five and six days post-inoculation, and body fat was the most affected tissue.
antagonistic bacteria; pests of cereal crops
Entomopathogenic fungi such as Metarhizium anisopliae infect insects by direct penetration of the cuticle, after which the fungus adapts to the high osmotic pressure of the hemolymph and multiplies. Here we characterize the M. anisopliae Mos1 gene and demonstrate that it encodes the osmosensor required for this process. MOS1 contains transmembrane regions and a C-terminal Src homology 3 domain similar to those of yeast osmotic adaptor proteins, and homologs of MOS1 are widely distributed in the fungal kingdom. Reverse transcription-PCR demonstrated that Mos1 is up-regulated in insect hemolymph as well as artificial media with high osmotic pressure. Transformants containing an antisense vector directed to the Mos1 mRNA depleted transcript levels by 80%. This produced selective alterations in regulation of genes involved in hyphal body formation, cell membrane stiffness, and generation of intracellular turgor pressure, suggesting that these processes are mediated by MOS1. Consistent with a role in stress responses, transcript depletion of Mos1 increased sensitivity to osmotic and oxidative stresses and to compounds that interfere with cell wall biosynthesis. It also disrupted developmental processes, including formation of appressoria and hyphal bodies. Insect bioassays confirmed that Mos1 knockdown significantly reduces virulence. Overall, our data show that M. anisopliae MOS1 mediates cellular responses to high osmotic pressure and subsequent adaptations to colonize host hemolymph.
Recent research has indicated that fungal biopesticides could augment existing malaria vector control tools. Here we present a set of methodologies to monitor the in vivo kinetics of entomopathogenic fungi in Anopheles in the presence or absence of malaria parasites using quantitative real-time PCR. Three qPCR assays were successfully developed for counting fungal genomes: “specific” assays capable of distinguishing two well characterized fungal entomopathogens Beauveria bassiana isolate IMI391510 and Metarhizium anisopliae var. acridum isolate IMI330189, both of which have previously been shown to be virulent to Anopheles mosquitoes, and a “generic” fungal assay for determining any fungal burden. A fourth assay to Plasmodium chabaudi enabled quantification of co-infecting malarial parasites. All qPCR assays provide sensitive, target-specific, and robust quantification over a linear range of greater than five orders of magnitude (seven orders of magnitude for the fungal assays). B. bassiana growth within mosquitoes exposed to three different conidial challenge doses was monitored using the B. bassiana-specific assay and represents the first description of entomopathogenic fungal replication within an insect host. This revealed that, irrespective of challenge dose, after several days of relatively little replication, a sudden on-set of substantial nuclear division occurs, accompanied by physical fungal growth (hyphae) within the mosquito haemocoel shortly before death. Exposure to higher densities of conidia resulted in significantly greater pick-up by mosquitoes and to elevated fungal burdens at each time point sampled. High fungal burdens, comparable to those identified in cadavers, were attained more rapidly and mortalities occurred earlier post-exposure with increasing challenge dose. The lines of research made possible by the qPCR assays described here will contribute to optimization of fungal biopesticides against malaria and other vector-borne diseases.
Real-time quantitative PCR assays; Fungal biopesticides; Malaria; Plasmodium chabaudi; Beauveria bassiana; Metarhizium anisopliae; Anopheles stephensi; Growth kinetics; Vector control
Ten strains of the entomopathogenic fungi Metarhizium anisopliae and Beauveria bassiana were evaluated to find the most effective strain for optimization studies. The first criterion tested for strain selection was the mortality (> 50%) of Spodoptera litura larvae after inoculation of the fungus for 4 days. Results on several bioassays revealed that B. bassiana BNBCRC showed the most virulence on mortality S. litura larvae (80% mortality). B. bassiana BNBCRC also showed the highest germination rate (72.22%). However, its conidia yield (7.2 × 108 conidia/mL) was lower than those of B. bassiana B 14841 (8.3 × 108 conidia/mL) and M. anisopliae M6 (8.2 × 108 conidia/mL). The highest accumulative radial growth was obtained from the strain B14841 (37.10 mm/day) while the strain BNBCRC showed moderate radial growth (24.40 mm/day). M. anisopliae M6 possessed the highest protease activity (145.00 mU/mL) while M. anisopliae M8 possessed the highest chitinase activity (20.00 mU/mL) during 96~144 hr cultivation. Amongst these criteria, selection based on virulence and germination rate lead to the selection of B. bassiana BNBCRC. B. bassiana B14841 would be selected if based on growth rate while M. anisopliae M6 and M8 possessed the highest enzyme activities.
Beauveria bassiana; Enzyme activities; Germination rate; Metarhizium anisopliae; Radial growth; Spodoptera litura; Virulence
Filamentous fungi are the most widely used eukaryotic biocatalysts in industrial and chemical applications. Consequently, there is tremendous interest in methodology that can use the power of genetics to develop strains with improved performance. For example, Metarhizium anisopliae is a broad host range entomopathogenic fungus currently under intensive investigation as a biologically based alternative to chemical pesticides. However, it use is limited by the relatively low tolerance of this species to abiotic stresses such as heat, with most strains displaying little to no growth between 35–37°C. In this study, we used a newly developed automated continuous culture method called the Evolugator™, which takes advantage of a natural selection-adaptation strategy, to select for thermotolerant variants of M. anisopliae strain 2575 displaying robust growth at 37°C.
Over a 4 month time course, 22 cycles of growth and dilution were used to select 2 thermotolerant variants of M. anisopliae. Both variants displayed robust growth at 36.5°C, whereas only one was able to grow at 37°C. Insect bioassays using Melanoplus sanguinipes (grasshoppers) were also performed to determine if thermotolerant variants of M. anisopliae retained entomopathogenicity. Assays confirmed that thermotolerant variants were, indeed, entomopathogenic, albeit with complex alterations in virulence parameters such as lethal dose responses (LD50) and median survival times (ST50).
We report the experimental evolution of a filamentous fungus via the novel application of a powerful new continuous culture device. This is the first example of using continuous culture to select for complex phenotypes such as thermotolerance. Temperature adapted variants of the insect-pathogenic, filamentous fungus M. anisopliae were isolated and demonstrated to show vigorous growth at a temperature that is inhibitory for the parent strain. Insect virulence assays confirmed that pathogenicity can be retained during the selection process. In principle, this technology can be used to adapt filamentous fungi to virtually any environmental condition including abiotic stress and growth substrate utilization.
Wangiella dermatitidis is a human pathogenic fungus that is an etiologic agent of phaeohyphomycosis. W. dermatitidis produces a black pigment that has been identified as a dihydroxynaphthalene melanin and the production of this pigment is associated with its virulence. Cell wall pigmentation in W. dermatitidis depends on the WdPKS1 gene, which encodes a polyketide synthase required for generating the key precursor for dihydroxynaphthalene melanin biosynthesis.
We analyzed the effects of disrupting WdPKS1 on dihydroxynaphthalene melanin production and resistance to antifungal compounds. Transmission electron microscopy revealed that wdpks1Δ-1 yeast had thinner cell walls that lacked an electron-opaque layer compared to wild-type cells. However, digestion of the wdpks1Δ-1 yeast revealed small black particles that were consistent with a melanin-like compound, because they were acid-resistant, reacted with melanin-binding antibody, and demonstrated a free radical signature by electron spin resonance analysis. Despite lacking the WdPKS1 gene, the mutant yeast were capable of catalyzing the formation of melanin from L-3,4-dihyroxyphenylalanine. The wdpks1Δ-1 cells were significantly more susceptible to killing by voriconazole, amphotericin B, NP-1 [a microbicidal peptide], heat and cold, and lysing enzymes than the heavily melanized parental or complemented strains.
In summary, W. dermatitidis makes WdPKS-dependent and -independent melanins, and the WdPKS1-dependent deposition of melanin in the cell wall confers protection against antifungal agents and environmental stresses. The biological role of the WdPKS-independent melanin remains unclear.
Control of mosquitoes that transmit malaria has been the mainstay in the fight against the disease, but alternative methods are required in view of emerging insecticide resistance. Entomopathogenic fungi are candidate alternatives, but to date, few trials have translated the use of these agents to field-based evaluations of their actual impact on mosquito survival and malaria risk. Mineral oil-formulations of the entomopathogenic fungi Metarhizium anisopliae and Beauveria bassiana were applied using five different techniques that each exploited the behaviour of malaria mosquitoes when entering, host-seeking or resting in experimental huts in a malaria endemic area of rural Tanzania.
Survival of mosquitoes was reduced by 39-57% relative to controls after forcing upward house-entry of mosquitoes through fungus treated baffles attached to the eaves or after application of fungus-treated surfaces around an occupied bed net (bed net strip design). Moreover, 68 to 76% of the treatment mosquitoes showed fungal growth and thus had sufficient contact with fungus treated surfaces. A population dynamic model of malaria-mosquito interactions shows that these infection rates reduce malaria transmission by 75-80% due to the effect of fungal infection on adult mortality alone. The model also demonstrated that even if a high proportion of the mosquitoes exhibits outdoor biting behaviour, malaria transmission was still significantly reduced.
Entomopathogenic fungi strongly affect mosquito survival and have a high predicted impact on malaria transmission. These entomopathogens represent a viable alternative for malaria control, especially if they are used as part of an integrated vector management strategy.
The growth and conidial physiology of the entomopathogenic fungi Beauveria bassiana, Metarhizium anisopliae, and Paecilomyces farinosus were studied under different conditions. The effects of culture age (up to 120 days), temperature (5 to 35(deg)C), and pH (2.9 to 11.1) were determined. Growth was optimal at pH 5 to 8 for each isolate and between 20 and 35(deg)C, depending on the isolate. The predominant polyol in conidia was mannitol, with up to 39, 134, and 61 mg g of conidia(sup-1) for B. bassiana, M. anisopliae, and P. farinosus, respectively. Conidia of M. anisopliae contained relatively small amounts of lower-molecular-weight polyols and trehalose (less than 25 mg g(sup-1) in total) in all treatments. Conidia of B. bassiana and P. farinosus contained up to 30, 32, and 25 mg of glycerol, erythritol, and trehalose, respectively, g(sup-1), depending on the treatment. Conidia of P. farinosus contained unusually high amounts of glycerol and erythritol at pH 2.9. The apparent effect of pH on gene expression is discussed in relation to the induction of a water stress response. To our knowledge, this is the first report of polyols and trehalose in fungal propagules produced over a range of temperature or pH. Some conditions and harvesting times were associated with an apparent inhibition of synthesis or accumulation of polyols and trehalose. This shows that culture age and environmental conditions affect the physiological quality of inoculum and can thereby determine its potential for biocontrol.
Entomopathogenic fungi were collected from soil in four adjacent habitats (oak forest, agricultural soil, pine reforestation and chaparral habitat) in Saltillo, México using the insect bait method with Tenebrio molitor (L.) (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae) larvae as bait. Overall, of the larvae exposed to soil, 171 (20%) hosted Beauveria bassiana (Balsamo) Vuillemin (Hypocreales: Cordycipitaceae), 25 (3%) hosted Metarhizium anisopliae (Metschnikoff) Sorokin (Hypocreales: Clavicipitaceae) and 1 (0.1%) hosted lsaria (=Paecilomyces) sp. (Hypocreales: Cordycipitaceae). B. bassiana was significantly more frequent on larvae exposed to oak forest soil. M. anisopliae was significantly more frequent on larvae exposed to agricultural soil. From the infected bait insects, 93 isolates of B. bassiana and 24 isolates of M. anisopliae were obtained. Strains were tested for their infectivity against Cuban laurel thrips, Gynaikothrips uzeli Zimmerman (Thysanoptera: Phlaeothripidae) and the greenhouse whitefly, Trialeurodes vaporariorum (Westwood) (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae). B. bassiana isolates caused the highest mortality on thrips (some causing 88% mortality after 6 days); both fungal species caused similarly high mortality levels against whiteflies (75%) after 6 days. Large amounts of germplasm of entomopathogenic fungi, fundamentally B. bassiana and M. anisopliae, exist in the habitats sampled; pathogenicity varied among strains, and some strains possessed significant virulence. Soils in these habitats are reservoirs of diverse strains with potential for use in biocontrol.
habitat; germplasm; insect-pathogenic fungus; Hemiptera; Thysanoptera
The entomopathogenic fungi Metarhizium anisopliae and Beauveria bassiana have demonstrated effectiveness against anopheline larvae in the laboratory. However, utilising these fungi for the control of anopheline larvae under field conditions, relies on development of effective means of application as well as reducing their sensitivity to UV radiation, high temperatures and the inevitable contact with water. This study was conducted to develop formulations that facilitate the application of Metarhizium anisopliae and Beauveria bassiana spores for the control of anopheline larvae, and also improve their persistence under field conditions.
Laboratory bioassays were conducted to test the ability of aqueous (0.1% Tween 80), dry (organic and inorganic) and oil (mineral and synthetic) formulations to facilitate the spread of fungal spores over the water surface and improve the efficacy of formulated spores against anopheline larvae as well as improve spore survival after application. Field bioassays were then carried out to test the efficacy of the most promising formulation under field conditions in western Kenya.
When formulated in a synthetic oil (ShellSol T), fungal spores of both Metarhizium anisopliae and Beauveria bassiana were easy to mix and apply to the water surface. This formulation was more effective against anopheline larvae than 0.1% Tween 80, dry powders or mineral oil formulations. ShellSol T also improved the persistence of fungal spores after application to the water. Under field conditions in Kenya, the percentage pupation of An. gambiae was significantly reduced by 39 - 50% by the ShellSol T-formulated Metarhizium anisopliae and Beauveria bassiana spores as compared to the effects of the application of unformulated spores.
ShellSol T is an effective carrier for fungal spores when targeting anopheline larvae under both laboratory and field conditions. Entomopathogenic fungi formulated with a suitable carrier are a promising tool for control of larval populations of malaria mosquitoes. Additional studies are required to identify the best delivery method (where, when and how) to make use of the entomopathogenic potential of these fungi against anopheline larvae.
Entomopathogenic fungi have shown great potential for the control of adult malaria vectors. However, their ability to control aquatic stages of anopheline vectors remains largely unexplored. Therefore, how larval characteristics (Anopheles species, age and larval density), fungus (species and concentration) and environmental effects (exposure duration and food availability) influence larval mortality caused by fungus, was studied.
Laboratory bioassays were performed on the larval stages of Anopheles gambiae and Anopheles stephensi with spores of two fungus species, Metarhizium anisopliae and Beauveria bassiana. For various larval and fungal characteristics and environmental effects the time to death was determined and survival curves established. These curves were compared by Kaplan Meier and Cox regression analyses.
Beauveria bassiana and Metarhizium anisopliae caused high mortality of An. gambiae and An. stephensi larvae. However, Beauveria bassiana was less effective (Hazard ratio (HR) <1) compared to Metarhizium anisopliae. Anopheles stephensi and An. gambiae were equally susceptible to each fungus. Older larvae were less likely to die than young larvae (HR < 1). The effect of increase in fungus concentration on larval mortality was influenced by spore clumping. One day exposure to fungal spores was found to be equally effective as seven days exposure. In different exposure time treatments 0 - 4.9% of the total larvae, exposed to fungus, showed infection at either the pupal or adult stage. Mortality rate increased with increasing larval density and amount of available food.
This study shows that both fungus species have potential to kill mosquitoes in the larval stage, and that mortality rate depends on fungus species itself, larval stage targeted, larval density and amount of nutrients available to the larvae. Increasing the concentration of fungal spores or reducing the exposure time to spores did not show a proportional increase and decrease in mortality rate, respectively, because the spores clumped together. As a result spores did not provide uniform coverage over space and time. It is, therefore, necessary to develop a formulation that allows the spores to spread over the water surface. Apart from formulation appropriate delivery methods are also necessary to avoid exposing non-target organisms to fungus.
Two entomopathogenic fungi, Isaria fumosorosea and Metarhizium anisopliae, and one bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis, were tested for their ability to cause mortality of Formosan subterranean termites (FST), Coptotermes formosanus (Shiraki), after liquid exposure, and for their lack of propensity to repel FST.
The fungus Isaria fumosorosea at 108 spores/ml caused 72.5% mortality on day 7, significantly higher than the control and 106 spores/ml treatment. On day 14, the 106 and 108 concentrations caused 38.8% and 92.5% mortality, respectively, significantly higher than the control. On day 21, 82.5% and 100% of the termites were killed by the 106 and 108 treatments, respectively. I. fumosorosea did not repel termites at 106 nor 108 spores/g in sand, soil or sawdust. The fungus Metarhizium anisopliae at 108 spores/ml caused 57.5% mortality on day 7, 77.5% mortality on day 14 and 100% mortality on day 21.
On all three days the rate of mortality was significantly higher than that of the control and 106 spores/ml treatment with I. fumosorosea. Neither I. fumosorosea nor M. anisopliae caused repellency of FST in sand, soil or sawdust. The bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis did not cause significant mortality on days 7, 14 or 21. When termites were exposed to cells of B. thuringiensis in sawdust and when termites were exposed to a mixture of spores and cells in sand, a significantly higher number remained in the control tubes. Repellency was not seen with B. thuringiensis spores alone, nor with the above treatments in the other substrates.
Mosquito-borne diseases are still a major health risk in many developing countries, and the emergence of multi-insecticide-resistant mosquitoes is threatening the future of vector control. Therefore, new tools that can manage resistant mosquitoes are required. Laboratory studies show that entomopathogenic fungi can kill insecticide-resistant malaria vectors but this needs to be verified in the field.
The present study investigated whether these fungi will be effective at infecting, killing and/or modifying the behaviour of wild multi-insecticide-resistant West African mosquitoes. The entomopathogenic fungi Metarhizium anisopliae and Beauveria bassiana were separately applied to white polyester window netting and used in combination with either a permethrin-treated or untreated bednet in an experimental hut trial. Untreated nets were used because we wanted to test the effect of fungus alone and in combination with an insecticide to examine any potential additive or synergistic effects.
In total, 1125 female mosquitoes were collected during the hut trial, mainly Culex quinquefasciatus Say. Unfortunately, not enough wild Anopheles gambiae Giles were collected to allow the effect the fungi may have on this malaria vector to be analysed. None of the treatment combinations caused significantly increased mortality of Cx. quinquefasciatus when compared to the control hut. The only significant behaviour modification found was a reduction in blood feeding by Cx. quinquefasciatus, caused by the permethrin and B. bassiana treatments, although no additive effect was seen in the B. bassiana and permethrin combination treatment. Beauveria bassiana did not repel blood foraging mosquitoes either in the laboratory or field.
This is the first time that an entomopathogenic fungus has been shown to reduce blood feeding of wild mosquitoes. This behaviour modification indicates that B. bassiana could potentially be a new mosquito control tool effective at reducing disease transmission, although further field work in areas with filariasis transmission should be carried out to verify this. In addition, work targeting malaria vector mosquitoes should be carried out to see if these mosquitoes manifest the same behaviour modification after infection with B. bassiana conidia.