Studies on mycosis of Metarhizium (nomuraea) rileyi on Spodoptera frugiperda infesting maize in Andhra Pradesh, India.
Background: Mycosis on the fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (J.E. Smith) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), infecting maize was observed in research farm of Regional Agricultural Research Station, Anakapalli from October 2019 to February 2020. Main body: High relative humidity (94.87%), low temperature (24.11°C), and high rainfall (376.1 mm) received during the month of September 2019 predisposed the larval instars for fungal infection and subsequent high relative humidity and low temperatures sustained the infection till February 2020. An entomopathogenic fungus (EPF) was isolated from the infected larval instars as per standard protocol on Sabouraud's maltose yeast extract agar and characterized based on morphological and molecular analysis. The fungus was identified as Metarhizium (Nomuraea) rileyi based on ITS sequence homology and the strain was designated as AKP-Nr-1. The pathogenicity of M. rileyi AKP-Nr-1 on S. frugiperda was visualized, using a light and electron microscopy at the host-pathogen interface. Microscopic studies revealed that all the body parts of larval instars were completely overgrown by white mycelial threads of M. rileyi, except the head capsule, thoracic shield, setae, and crotchets. The cadavers of larval instars of S. frugiperda turned green on sporulation and mummified with progress in infection. In vitro pathogenicity tests revealed the potential of AKP-Nr-1 strain of M. rileyi in management of S. frugiperda. Short conclusion: The results indicated the potential of M. rileyi AKP-Nr-1 as biocontrol agent for management of the fall armyworm. This AKP-Nr-1 strain of M. rileyi needs further evaluation under field conditions to evaluate its efficacy against S. frugiperda and its effects on other hosts.