Quantification and Molecular Characterization of Endemic Beauveria bassiana (Balsamo) Vuillemin Populations within Kudzu Soils

Monday, March 14, 2016
Oak Forest Ballroom Prefunction Area (Sheraton Raleigh Hotel)
Carly Lewallen , Biology, Wingate University, Wingate, NC
Erika Niland , Biology, Wingate University, Wingate, NC
Wayne Gardner , Entomology, University of Georgia, Griffin, GA
Beauveria bassiana is an entomopathogen that causes natural epizootics, and the GHA strain has been sold commercially for insect control.  One such insect pest that this fungus could control is the kudzu bug, Megacopta cribraria.  Current reports indicate a natural epizootic of B. bassiana affecting kudzu bugs in soybean fields in GA and SC.  This suggests a natural epizootic could be occurring in kudzu patches in North Carolina. This study aims to quantify B. bassiana in soil samples of kudzu bug infested kudzu. Genomic sequencing will provide strain specific characterization to determine species and pathogenic strains. Preliminary findings suggest low populations (1-2 CFUs/g of soil) of B. bassiana in the soil ecosystem, which were recovered on Doberski and Tribe media. Sequence analysis indicated eight different strains of B. bassiana present in the soil sampled.  Therefore, addition of propagules to these endemic areas could increase infectivity, thus, providing control of the kudzu bug populations within kudzu.