SUSCEPTIBILITY OF WINTER TICK LARVAE AND EGGS TO ENTOMOPATHOGENIC FUNGI - BEAUVERIA BASSIANA, BEAUVERIA CALEDONICA, METARHIZIUM ANISOPLIAE, AND SCOPULARIOPSIS BREVICAULIS
Keywords:Alces alces, Dermacentor albipictus, moose, pathogenic fungi, Scopulariopsis brevicaulis, survival, water balance, winter ticks
An isolate of the soil fungus Scopulariopsis brevicaulis was identified from the surface of female winter ticks (Dermacentor albipictus) collected from recently dead moose (Alces alces) calves in New Hampshire in the northeastern United States. It was the sole isolate, and it matched with 98% nucITS similarity (molecular systematics Blast match) to S. brevicaulis species from soil and other tick species. Inoculation of tick larvae and eggs with 108 spores/mL + 0.05% Tween (aqueous inoculum) resulted in mortality, reduced survival time, and recovery of S. brevicaulis from within tick tissues. Rapid water loss and death from dehydration were the pathogenic consequences of the fungal infection. Three entomopathogenic fungal isolates from laboratory culture (Beauveria bassiana, B. caledonica,and Metarhizium anisopliae) inoculated concurrently at the same dose, were slightly less pathogenic to eggs than larvae of winter ticks. We conclude that S. brevicaulis imposes a limitation on the free-living stages of the winter tick population in specific environmental conditions, but commercial fungal treatments as used in local situations to control ticks, are impractical as a means of controlling winter tick density across moose habitats.
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