Volume 12 Part 2 Article 82: Investigations on the Fungus Erynia montana (Entomophthorales) as a Potential Biological Control of Sciarid Flies (Lycoriella mali)

Volume 12 Part 2 Article 82
Year 1989
Title: Investigations on the Fungus Erynia montana (Entomophthorales) as a Potential Biological Control of Sciarid Flies (Lycoriella mali)
Author: D.A. Betterley


Opportunities for the use of biological control in agriculture are numerous, with possibilities for introducing fungi, bacteria, insects, nematodes, protozoa, viruses, plasmids, or microbial antibiotics or toxins with specific activities. While there are some biocontrols that are registered and have been successful, these are few. Impediments have not been registration approval pnmarly, but rather the nature of many biological control organisms or inability to compete with chemical pesticides. Biocontrol agents must satisfy a large number of criteria in order to be successful (Papavizas, 1981; Roberts and Yendol, 1971; Surges and Hussey, 1971; van der Laan, 1967). Problems often encountered have been that disease antagonists may perform well in laboratory or small scale field trials, but when challenged with competing microorganisms, variable substrates, environmental fluctuations, exposure to fungicides or insecticides, or adverse water relations, various inadequacies arise. However, important advances continue and the level of recent research activity is high (Hoy and Herzog, 1985; Franz, 1986; Samson et al., 1986).

In some respects, the controlled environments of mushroom houses are potentially ideal situations for greater success with microbial antagonists. Mushroom growers already practice various types of selective ‘microbial gardening’ at all stages, from outdoor Phase I composting and Phase II pasteurization, to specific microbial populations in the compost and casing layer. Water is not limiting as in most agricultural applications, and under proper conditions, mushroom growers are afforded two partial ‘biological vacuums’, one after compost pasteurization, and the other in casing layer preparation. These allow for introduction and establishment of microbial biocontrol agents.

This study was prompted in 1983 while conducting field trials on a small Agaricus mushroom farm m northern California, chosen because of its large resident sciand fly population. Trials were examining the control of sciand flies, Lyconella mali Fitch (Diptera: Sciandae), with introduced parasitic nematodes. During these trials, an entomogenous fungus was noted infecting and killing the sciands (Betterley, 1985). This investigation reports on the isolation and identification of the fungus, its culture, and trials for use as a potential biological control of sciarid flies.

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