Distribution of resting spores of the Lymantria dispar pathogen Entomophaga maimaiga in soil and on bark
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Cadavers of late instar Lymantria dispar (gypsy moth) larvae killed by the fungal pathogen Entomophaga maimaiga predominantly contain resting spores (azygospores). These cadavers frequently remain attached to tree trunks for several weeks before they detach and fall to the ground. Density gradient centrifugation was used to quantify resting spores in the soil and on tree bark. Titers of resting spores were extremely high at 0-10 cm from the base of the tree and the number decreased with distance from the trunk of the tree. Titers were also highest in the organic layer of the soil with numbers decreasing precipitously with increasing depth in the soil. While resting spores were obtained from tree bark, densities per unit area were much lower than those found in the organic soil layer at the base of the tree. Field bioassays were conducted with caged L. dispar larvae to compare infection levels with distance from the tree trunk as well as on the trunk. Highest infection levels were found at 50 cm from the tree base with lowest infection on the tree trunk at 0.5 m height, although we expected the highest infection levels among larvae caged at the bases of trees, where highest spore titers occurred. Laboratory experiments demonstrated that L. dispar larvae exposed to resting spore-bearing soil at the soil surface became infected while larvae exposed to soil with resting spores buried at least 1 cm below the surface did not become infected.
Keywordsazygospores, Entomophthorales, epizootiology, fungal distribution, soil extraction
Hajek, A. E.; Bauer, L.; McManus, M. L.; Wheeler, M. M. 1998. Distribution of resting spores of the Lymantria dispar pathogen Entomophaga maimaiga in soil and on bark. BioControl 43:189-200