Dual selection of Beauveria bassiana strains and complex substrate media for the massive production of submerged propagules with activity against the eucalyptus bronze bug Thaumastocoris peregrinus.
The bronze bug Thaumastocoris peregrinus is an invasive pest, affecting Eucalyptus plantations worldwide. Although its natural enemy Cleruchoides noackae has been tested for the biological control of this pest, other strategies like the use of native entomopathogenic fungi are needed. For this, native virulent fungal isolates should be selected, massively multiplied in an efficient way, and prepared to obtain a stable product. Isolates of native Beauveria bassiana obtained from T. peregrinus and from different collections were screened for their virulence towards this insect and for their amenability to be massively produced in a low-input liquid submerged fermentation and prepared as a dry powder. Three out of six virulent strains were suitable for their massive production in a 2% corn flour suspension, achieving 109 submerged propagules/g of dehydrated preparation. The LC50 achieved by the dry submerged propagules did not differ from the LC50 of fresh aerial conidia. The proposed dual selection of strain and a complex substrate, and the procedures leading to the production of a dry preparation, allowed for high viability and virulence of the fungal spores of three strains.