The making of a vector: a new method for loading predatory mites with entomopathogenic fungi for biological control of their prey


Abstract: Movement of invertebrates can promote contact between entomopathogenic fungi and their hosts. In biological control programs, foraging predatory mites have the capacity to increase disease transmission rate and can potentially be used as fungal vectors. In this study, a method has been developed for predatory mites to collect and transport Beauveria bassiana conidia directly from the commercial rearing substrate. Increasing duration of exposure (2-24 hours) to contaminated substrate significantly increased conidia retention of a soil predatory mite, Stratiolaelaps scimitus. However, the tested exposure durations did not impact conidia load in two phytoseiid species, Neoseiulus cucumeris and Amblyseius swirskii. These results suggest that upon receiving predatory mites from a supplier of biocontrol agents, conidia can be mixed into the substrate and, for the soil predatory mite, the length of time between mixing and release can be manipulated to determine the conidia load. Furthermore, the B. bassiana strain ANT-03 showed low virulence towards N. cucumeris, and had no significant effect on survival of A. swirskii or S. scimitus.

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