THESIS ABSTRACT Current control strategies for livestock ectoparasites are limited by problems associated with chemical resistance and residues. Fungal biopesticides could provide an alternative control without these problems. However, a strategic approach is needed to first evaluate the suitability of selected fungal isolates for fungal biopesticide development. Two ectoparasites of significance to cattle and sheep are the cattle tick Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus (Canestrini) and the Australian sheep blowfly Lucilia cuprina (Wiedmann). The fungus Metarhizium anisopliae (Metsch.) Sorokin) was evaluated for its potential to control these livestock ectoparasites. The growth characteristics of 30 isolates of M. anisopliae were investigated. Radial growth measurements were used to identify vigorous isolates that grew well at 30C and were capable of growing at 35C. A qualitative assessment of sporulation capacity further refined the candidate isolate group. A possible nutritive role of oil in the formulation was also investigated. However, there was no clear support for the theory that oil as a formulation additive could boost the germination and growth of the fungal conidia in vitro. Quantal response bioassays were conducted with cattle ticks and sheep blowflies using a range of conidial doses of three different isolates of M. anisopliae and different methods of inoculation. Ticks were either dosed with 2 µl or immersed in the conidial doses. Blowflies were either dosed with 2 µl of the conidial doses or fed conidia mixed with sugar. Probit analyses were carried out on the mortality data to compare the virulence of these isolates to ticks and blowflies and look for indications of different virulence mechanisms employed by M. anisopliae isolates when invading these hosts. One isolate (ARIM16) showed high virulence to both hosts killing 95 % of ticks after two days and 88 (±2) % of blowflies after four days. Strikingly different mortality patterns indicated quite different virulence mechanisms operating when M. anisopliae invades ticks or blowflies. The mortality pattern seen with ticks suggested that the number of conidia adhering per unit area of the cuticle was more important for rapid tick death than the total number of conidia contacting the entire tick surface. Blowflies fed conidia mixed with food died rapidly after an initial lag phase regardless of dose. Microscopic investigations were carried out to resolve the basis of the virulence patterns observed. The spatial and temporal aspects of the invasion of ticks and blowflies by M. anisopliae isolate ARIM16 were investigated with different types of microscopy. The scanning electron microscope and stereo light microscope were used to record surface changes and events and the compound light microscope revealed internal changes. Two distinctly different patterns of invasion were found in ticks and blowflies. Fungal conidia germinated on the surface of ticks then hyphae simultaneously penetrated into the tick body and grew across the tick surface. There was extensive fungal degradation of the tick cuticle with a preference for the outer endocuticle. While large numbers of conidia adhered to the surface of blowflies, no conidia were recorded germinating on external surfaces. One germinating conidium was seen in the entrance to the buccal cavity. Investigations of the fly interior revealed a higher density of hyphal bodies in the haemolymph surrounding the buccal cavity than in haemolymph from regions of the upper thorax. This pattern suggested that fungal invasion of the blowfly is through the buccal cavity. Plentiful extracellular mucilage was seen around the hyphae on ticks, and crystals of calcium oxalate were seen amongst the hyphae on the surface of ticks and in the haemolymph of blowflies killed by M. anisopliae isolate ARIM16. It was considered that cattle ticks are more suited for control with fungal biopesticides than adult blowflies. Three field trials were conducted over twelve months to assess the pathogenicity of M. anisopliae to parasitic stages of R. microplus on dairy heifers under different environmental conditions. Two isolates were selected based on their high optimal growth temperature (30oC), good conidial production characteristics and ability to kill adult engorged ticks in the laboratory in minimum time. Conidia were formulated in an oil emulsion and applied using a motor driven spray unit. Surface temperatures of selected animals were monitored, as were the ambient temperature and relative humidity. Unengorged ticks sampled from each animal immediately after treatment were incubated under laboratory conditions to assess the efficacy of the formulation and application. Egg production by engorged ticks collected in the first 3 days after treatment was monitored. Side counts of standard adult female ticks were conducted daily, before and after treatment to assess the performance of the fungus against all tick stages on the animals. At each trial the formulation caused 100% mortality in unengorged ticks that were removed from cattle and cultured under laboratory conditions. A significant reduction in egg production was recorded for engorged ticks collected in the three days post treatment. In the field, the fungal formulation had an inconsistent effect on ticks, which might be due to the influence of environmental temperature and humidity

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University of Queensland eSpace

Last time updated on 30/08/2013

This paper was published in University of Queensland eSpace.

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