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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Ithaca, New York » Robert W. Holley Center for Agriculture & Health » Emerging Pests and Pathogens Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #331650

Research Project: Management and Biology of Arthropod Pests and Arthropod-borne Plant Pathogens

Location: Emerging Pests and Pathogens Research

Title: A natural fungal infection of a sylvatic cockroach with Metarhizium blattodeae sp. nov., a member of the M. flavoviride species complex

item MONTALVA, C. - Federal University Of Goias
item COLLIER, K. - Unirg University Center
item FERNANDES, EKK - Federal University Of Goias
item LOPES, RB - Embrapa
item INGLIS, PW - Embrapa
item LUZ, C - Federal University Of Goias
item Humber, Richard

Submitted to: Fungal Biology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/8/2016
Publication Date: 3/16/2016
Citation: Montalva, C., Collier, K., Fernandes, E., Lopes, R., Inglis, P., Luz, C., Humber, R.A. 2016. A natural fungal infection of a sylvatic cockroach with Metarhizium blattodeae sp. nov., a member of the M. flavoviride species complex. Fungal Biology. 120:655-665.

Interpretive Summary: Exploration for fungal pathogens affecting insects at a site in the northern part of the State of Goiás, Brazil, under a Brazilian-funded project on the biodiversity of fungal pathogens affecting mosquitoes and other carriers of important human and animal diseases led to the incidental discovery of a fungus that killed a wild, forest-dwelling cockroach; this was one of the first finds of any fungus killing any wild cockroach species worldwide. The fungus was successfully cultured and confirmed by both standard genome sequences and by a mass-spectrometric technique (MALDI-TOF) profiling the spectrum of proteins on fungal spore surfaces to be a new species that was described here as Metarhizium blattodeae. Wild cockroach species are not treated as pests, but there is great interest globally to find pathogens active against the diverse cockroaches that are major pests and nuisances in and around domestic locations. This new cockroach fungus was found to cause up to 96% mortality within a few days for immature stages of the American cockroaches, Periplaneta americana, that is a very important domestic pest. The activity of this new species still needs to be confirmed against other major domestic cockroach pests, but the findings reported here provide an encouraging new potential candidate to reduce the populations of these serious nuisances.

Technical Abstract: A wild, forest-dwelling cockroach from the subfamily Ectobiidae (order Blattodea) in a nature reserve in Cavalcante, in the state of Goias, Brazil, was found to be infected by a new, genetically distinct species in the Metarhizium flavoviride species complex that we describe here as Metarhizium blattodeae. The status of this fungus as a new species is supported by both multigenic sequence comparisons and protein profiles generated by MALDI-TO (matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight) mass spectrometry. This is one of the first reports of a naturally occurring fungal pathogen affecting any sylvatic (forest-dwelling) cockroach from any part of the world. M. blattodeae caused up to 96 % mortality of Periplaneta americana nymphs (a serious peridomestic cockroach species) after 10 days.