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Endophytic establishment of Beauveria bassiana in maize, and its effects on plant growth and reproduction of grain aphids (Sitobion avenae)

Zahid Mahmood: Aarhus University

<div>Mycoinsecticides based on the entomopathogenic fungus <em>Beauveria bassiana </em>can be used in integrated pest management. In addition, it has the potential of establishing a symbiotic relationship with plants and grow as an endophyte, without compromising plant growth, to provide life lasting resistance against insect pests. One-week-old maize plants (N=12) were sprayed with a spore suspension, while control plants (N=4) were treated with a Tween suspension. Two weeks after inoculation, seven clip cages per plant, each containing an adult grain aphid (<em>Sitobion avenae</em>), were attached to different leaves and left for seven days. All treated plants contained endophytic <em>Beauveria bassiana</em> as confirmed by plating surface disinfected leaf parts on PDA containing antibiotics. The fungus had neutral effects on plant growth as revealed by measuring plant heights, root dry weights and shoot fresh weights. Mean numbers of offspring per adult aphid in endophytic plants (4.86 ± 1.14) were significantly reduced by 39% to that of control plants (7.92 ± 1.32), (p < 0.001). The study confirms that <em>Beauveria bassiana</em> can establish as an endophyte in maize and shows that aphid population development is reduced considerably.</div>