Pathogenic fungi infecting the Eucalyptus snout beetle in Eucalyptus forest

Way to develop a bio-pesticide for controlling the beetle.


Eucalyptus forests, covering over 20 million hectares worldwide, are threatened by the Gonipterus platensis, or Eucalyptus snout beetle, which can cause complete defoliation and substantial wood volume losses. In the Iberian Peninsula, this beetle poses a significant risk. While Eucalyptus wood is crucial for paper pulp, current biocontrol methods are not fully effective, sometimes requiring chemical interventions.

The Eucalyptus snout beetle significantly affects Eucalyptus forest plantations globally. The usual control method involves the micro wasp Anaphes spp, but it could be more cost-effective. To address this issue, scientists sought out naturally occurring pathogenic fungi as an alternative solution to control the Eucalyptus snout beetle.

In a new study, researchers identified fungi that are natural enemies of the Eucalyptus snout beetle. Notably, these fungi were collected from infected beetles in their natural habitat in Colombia. This adaptation to local conditions makes these fungi promising candidates for controlling the beetle in forest plantations.

To ensure the suitability of the recovered fungi for developing a bio-pesticide, scientists conducted thorough characterizations. They assessed insecticidal activity, UV-B radiation tolerance, and other factors. This characterization process ensures that the fungi are suitable for large-scale production and resistant to environmental conditions when used in forest plantations.

Among the fungi studied, Beauveria pseudobassiana and Metarhizium brunneum showed the highest virulence. B. pseudobassiana was well-suited for bio-pesticide production and demonstrated tolerance to tested environmental conditions.

The identified fungi have the potential for developing a bio-pesticide, pending trials in Eucalyptus forests. The researchers are seeking new funding for this crucial phase. Once successful, these fungi could be employed in other regions facing significant damage from the Eucalyptus snout beetle.

Journal Reference:

  1. MEJÍA, CINDY, GLORIA BARRERA, JOHN ALEXANDER PULGARÍN DÍAZ, CARLOS ESPINEL. 2024. The Eucalyptus snout beetle in Colombia: selection and evaluation of entomopathogenic fungi as bioinsecticides against Gonipterus platensis. Biological Control: 105407. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocontrol.2023.105407


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