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Storage of resting spores of the gypsy moth fungal pathogen, Entomophaga maimaiga

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Hajek, Ann E.; Wheeler, Micheal M.; Eastburn, Callie C.; Bauer, Leah S.

Year Published



Biocontrol Science and Technology. 11: 637-647.


The fungal pathogen, Entomophaga maimaiga causes epizootics in populations of the important North American forest defoliator gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar). Increasing use of thisfungus for biological control is dependent on our ability to produce and manipulate the long-lived overwintering resting spores (azygospores). E. maimaiga resting spores undergo obligate dormancy before germination so we investigated conditions required for survival during dormancy as well as the dynamics of subsequent germination. After formation in the field during summer, resting spores were stored under various moisture levels, temperatures, and with and without soil in the laboratory and field. The following spring, for samples maintained in the field, germination was greatest among resting spores stored in plastic bags containing either moistened paper towels or sterile soil. Resting spores did not require light during storage to subsequently germinate. In the laboratory, only resting spores maintained with either sterile or unsterilized soil at 4 degrees C (but not at 20 or -20 degrees C,) germinated the following spring, but at a much lower percentage than most field treatments. To further investigate the effects of relative humidity (RH) during storage, field-collected resting spores were placed at a range of humidities at 4?C. After 9.5 months, resting spore germination was highest at 58% RH and no resting spores stored at 88 or 100% RH germinated. To evaluate the dynamics of infections initiated by resting spores after storage, gypsy moth larvae were exposed to soil containing resting spores that had been collected in the field and stored at 4 degrees C for varying lengths of time. No differences in infection occurred among larvae exposed to fall-collected soil samples stored at 4 degrees C over the winter, versus soil samples collected from the same location the following spring. Springcollected resting spores stored at 4 degrees C did not go into secondary dormancy. At the time that cold storage of soil containing resting spores began in spring, infection among exposed larvae was initiated within a few days after bringing the soil to 15 degrees C. This same pattern was also found for spring-collected resting spore-bearing soil that was assayed after cold storage for 2-7 months. However, after 31-32 months in cold storage, infections started 14-18 days after soil was brought to 15 degrees C, indicating a delay in resting spore activity after prolonged cold storage.


Entomophaga maimaiga; biological control; cold storage


Hajek, Ann E.; Wheeler, Micheal M.; Eastburn, Callie C.; Bauer, Leah S. 2001. Storage of resting spores of the gypsy moth fungal pathogen, Entomophaga maimaiga. Biocontrol Science and Technology. 11: 637-647.

Last updated on: January 16, 2007