Start Date: Nov 01, 2005
End Date: Oct 31, 2010
The goals of this project are to increase fundamental knowledge of insect-pathogenic fungi and use that knowledge to develop these pathogens as biological control agents. This work encompasses fundamental as well as applied greenhouse and field research. This project will provide basic information on insect mycoses and lead to incorporation of fungi as tools in pest management. Fungi used in this way will provide safe, effective biological alternatives to synthetic chemical insecticides. Laboratory research will be focused on factors that affect fungal viability, infectivity and insect susceptibility. We will also study fungal strain differentiation to facilitate identification of isolates recovered from test plots and evaluate the probability and consequences of strain recombination in vivo and in vitro. In studies of greenhouse crops, we will determine effectiveness of fungi against aphids on a variety of bedding and potted flowering plants of commercial importance in the Northeast. We will determine the effectiveness of commercially available and novel fungal strains and evaluate the suitability of integrating fungi with other biocontrol agents for more effective control. In field studies with the Colorado potato beetle on potatoes, we will investigate alternative application schemes for fungi and determine the efficacy of interactions of fungi with other pest control methods. We will use this field system as a model to evaluate the impact of inundative releases of a fungal biocontrol agent on indigenous conspecific strains. Findings will aid in assessing risks associated with this approach to microbial control. For studies of the emerald ash borer, we will assess the impact of fungal applications to determine fungal infection mechanisms. We will use this information to improve the use and impact of these methods for management of this invasive pest.