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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Wooster, Ohio » Application Technology Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #67764


item Klein, Michael

Submitted to: Proceedings of the USDA Interagency Japanese Beetle Research Forum
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/15/1996
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The milky disease bacterium Bacillus popilliae was the first microbial agent registered in the United States and is used for suppressing Japanese beetle populations. Larvae become infected when spores are ingested, germinate in the mid-gut, and vegetative rods move into the hemoceal where they multiply and eventually sporulate. Spores and parasporal bodies build up in the blood, and cause larvae to take on the characteristic milky appearance. Strains of B. popilliae have been isolated from about 30 different scarab species. Although macroscopically similar, the bacteria may differ in their microscopic appearance and in their pathogenicity. Milky disease bacteria have been used for inoculative release since they reproduce in their hosts and reinoculate the soil. However, recent field tests have not produced levels of infection equal to historical standards. Although milky disease bacteria are important in suppressing Japanese beetle populations, they are not a direct replacement for conventional insecticides. The use of B. popilliae is hampered by an inability to grow the bacteria on artificial media and get it to sporulate. At this time, milky disease products are made by using naturally infected larvae, or by collecting Japanese beetle larvae, infecting them, and extracting the spores. A paucity of material, and the lack of rapid reliable action, jeopardize the future of this historically important bacterium. Barring new breakthroughs, milky disease bacteria will be in short supply, and only cause general population suppression, not specific host plant protection.