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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Lacey, Lawrence
item Wraight, Stephen - Steve
item Kirk, Alan

Submitted to: USDA Miscellaneous Publication 1343
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/30/2003
Publication Date: 4/7/2008
Citation: Lacey, L.A., Wraight, S.P., Kirk, A.A. 2008. Entomopathogenic fungi for control of Bemisia spp.:foreign exploration, research and implementation. In: Classical Biological Control of Bemisia tabaci in the USA: A Review of Interagency Research and Implementation. J.K.Gould, K.Hoelmer, and JGoolsby (eds.), Vol 4 'Progress in Biological Control' (H.Hokkanen, series editor) pp. 33-69. springer, Dorcrecht.

Interpretive Summary: The silverleaf whitefly, also known scientifically as Bemisia argentifolii, is found on a broad range of plant hosts in the tropics and subtropics and in greenhouses in many temperate zones. Since 1990 the spread of the silverleaf whitefly into Europe, the Middle East, North America and several other areas of the world has resulted in massive economic losses. Concerns over the cost and environmental impact of conventional control strategies and subsequent development of resistance to several insecticides have prompted an increased interest in the integrated approach for management of this pest (IPM). Biological control, including use of disease causing agents will play a large role in IPM. Because whiteflies obtain their food by piercing the plant, fungi are the only effective disease causing agents of this group of insects because infections can be directly through the insect cuticle. Since 1990 the urgent need for alternatives to conventional insecticides for the management of Bemisia resulted in a tremendous effort to search for and develop fungi and other natural enemies for control of this pest. The USDA Agricultural Research Service addressed these needs through a massive foreign exploration. In this paper we describe the foreign exploration effort and present details of subsequent research for their development and application to crops and present recommendations for future avenues of research and development.

Technical Abstract: Prior to the global outbreak of Bemisia argentifolii, also known as Bemisia tabaci type B and the silverleaf whitefly, in the early 1990's, very little attention was paid to the potential of fungal pathogens for control of this whitefly. A massive foreign exploration effort was mounted in 1991 by the USDA Agricultural Research Service to collect and develop fungi and other natural enemies of whiteflies. From 1990 until 1996, dozens of trips were made by scientists from the USDA European Biological Control Laboratory (EBCL) in Montpellier, France specifically for the purpose of finding natural enemies of whiteflies. The countries visited by EBCL ranged from European countries bordering the Mediterranean (Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Cyprus), to the Middle East (Israel, Egypt), Western Asia (Pakistan, India, Nepal), Southeast Asia (Thailand, Malaysia) and Latin America (Argentina and Brazil). The most prevalent fungus attacking Bemisia in the field was Paecilomyces fumosoroseus. Fungi from whiteflies or from other insects with good activity against the silverleaf whitefly include Paecilomyces spp., Verticillium lecanii, Beauveria bassiana and Aschersonia spp. Hundreds of isolates of these fungi were collected and shipped to the USA. Subsequent research involved screening of isolates for activity, study of factors that limited or enhanced activity, and evaluation of candidate fungi in field and glasshouse crops. The literature on research for the development and implementation of these fungi is reviewed with recommendations for future avenues of research and development.

Last Modified: 10/20/2017
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