Metarhizium majus (entomopathogen)

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Dermolepida albohirtum white grub killed by Metarhizium (click on image to enlarge it)
Source: CSIRO - Wikimedia Commons
Oryctes rhinoceros adult killed by Metarhizium majus (click on image to enlarge it)
Author: Roy Bateman
Source: Wikipedia
Metarhizium majus - culture, phialides and conidia - scale bars = 10 μm (click on image to enlarge it)
Author(s): S. Mongkolsamrit et al.
Source: Studies in Mycology (2020), vol. 95, p. 197

Metarhizium majus (entomopathogen) (J.R. Johnst.) J.F. Bisch., Rehner & Humber 2009

The fungus infects mainly scarab beetles and has been reported from various pest species of the superfamily Scarabaeoidea, e.g. Oryctes rhinoceros which attacks coconut and oil palms in Asia and the Pacific or Protaetia orientalis which attacks fruits in Asia. In both cases, the adults are the damaging stage, but the fungus is predominantly a pathogen of the larval stages (white grubs).

The fungus is characterized by its large conidia. It usually persists well in the breeding environment of these grubs (decaying coconut trunks and soil). However, it does not spread through the air and relies on insects and other organisms to be transported to a different location.

M. majus is closely related to Metarhizium anisopliae and until 2009 was considered to be part or a variety of that species (Bischoff et al. 2009). The names M. anisopliae or M. anisopliae var. major have previously been used. Many older articles reporting M. anisopliae infections in scarab beetles are listed here (box on upper left). However, some studies, specifically refer to other varieties, like Metarhizium anisopliae var. anisopliae which is being used to control the greyback canegrub (Dermolepida albohirtum) in Australia. See also Metarhizium frigidum for another Metarhizium species infecting scarab beetles.

Metarhizium anisopliae var. major