Odi Et Amo: Diversity of Insect–Microbe Interactions, from Antagonism to Mutualism, and Their Manipulation for Pest Control

A special issue of Microorganisms (ISSN 2076-2607). This special issue belongs to the section "Parasitology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2023) | Viewed by 7794

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
1. Council for Agricultural Research and Economics, Research Center for Olive, Citrus and Fruit Crops, 81100 Caserta, Italy
2. Department of Agricultural Sciences, University of Naples Federico II, 80055 Portici, Italy
Interests: endophytes; plant pathogens; entomopathogens; biocontrol; bioactive fungal products; marine fungi
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Assistant Guest Editor
Department of Agriculture, University of Naples 'Federico II', Via Università 100, 80055 Portici, Italy
Interests: insect immunity; molecular entomology; parasitic interactions; pest control; entomopathogens
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Microbes associated with insects are mostly regarded as antagonists or competitors to be exploited in biocontrol. Indeed, entomopathogens diversified a plethora of sophisticated strategies to counter insect immune and behavioral defenses, through a long coevolutionary arms race. Fungal, bacterial and viral pathogens may have dramatic effects on insect populations, representing important biocontrol agents toward pest insects and a serious threat to managed insects, such as honey bees. Moreover, microbes can establish mutualistic interactions with insects by providing a range of beneficial effects or functional traits allowing their hosts to adapt to novel ecological niches. So far, microbial mutualists have been basically characterized for supporting their host insects in the confrontation with plants, pathogens, parasitoids and predators. Nevertheless, they can also influence insects’ response to abiotic stressors, determining their sensitivity toward toxicants, thermal tolerance and drought resistance. As such, microbial symbionts can interact by either expanding or constraining their hosts’ adaptations to novel habitats and response to environmental fluctuations. A thorough knowledge of these interactions is fundamental for a better understanding of their impact on insect populations, also in the aim of disrupting them to contrast pests. This Special Issue has been launched to set up a collection of contributions examining the outcome of ecological and molecular interactions between insects and their microbial associates, resulting from both observations concerning natural contexts and investigations on model systems carried out in the laboratory.

Dr. Rosario Nicoletti
Dr. Andrea Becchimanzi
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • insect microbiome
  • microbial symbionts
  • entomopathogens
  • ecological relationships
  • molecular relationships

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

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9 pages, 1514 KiB  
Communication
Isolation, Identification and Evaluation of the Effects of Native Entomopathogenic Fungi from Côte d’Ivoire on Galleria mellonella
by Fatoumatou Fofana, Corentin Descombes, Assiri Patrice Kouamé and François Lefort
Microorganisms 2023, 11(8), 2104; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms11082104 - 18 Aug 2023
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Abstract
The fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), is a polyphagous pest highly damaging to maize and other food crops in Africa, particularly in Côte d’Ivoire. Chemical pesticides not only have often proved to be unsuccessful, but cause adverse effects on the environment and [...] Read more.
The fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), is a polyphagous pest highly damaging to maize and other food crops in Africa, particularly in Côte d’Ivoire. Chemical pesticides not only have often proved to be unsuccessful, but cause adverse effects on the environment and human health; therefore, entomopathogenic fungi could represent an alternative biocontrol solution. Against this background, fungi were isolated from soil samples collected in maize fields in three regions of Côte d’Ivoire, by the methods of soil dilution and baiting with Galleria mellonella. The resulting 86 fungal isolates were phenotypically and genetically identified. The pathogenicity of seven isolates of Metarhizium spp., three isolates of Beauveria bassiana and two isolates of Trichoderma sp. was evaluated on fifth instar larvae (L5) of G. mellonella. Larval mortality rates and the median lethal time (LT50) were determined seven days after inoculation for each of these selected isolates. The median lethal concentration (LC50) was determined for a selection of isolates. Beauveria bassiana isolate A214b was the most effective, causing 100% mortality, with an LT50 of 2.64 days and an LC50 of 1.12 × 104 conidia mL−1. Two other promising isolates, A211 and A214a, belonging to B. bassiana, caused 100% mortality with LT50 values of 3.44 and 4.04 days, respectively. Mortality caused by Metarhizium isolates varied from 65.38% to 100%, with Metarhizium anisopliae isolate T331 causing 100% mortality with an LT50 of 3.08 days at an LC50 of 3.33 × 104 conidia mL−1. Trichoderma sp. isolates were the least pathogenic ones. Beauveria bassiana and Metarhizium isolates showed to be virulent against the model Lepidopteran G. mellonella and will be tested on S. frugiperda. Full article
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21 pages, 3548 KiB  
Article
Characterization of the Bacterial Microbiome in Natural Populations of Barley Stem Gall Midge, Mayetiola hordei, in Morocco
by Imane Remmal, Naima Bel Mokhtar, Amal Maurady, Mohammed Reda Britel, Karim El Fakhouri, Elias Asimakis, George Tsiamis and Panagiota Stathopoulou
Microorganisms 2023, 11(3), 797; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms11030797 - 21 Mar 2023
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Abstract
Mayetiola hordei (Kieffer), known as barley stem gall midge, is one of the most destructive barley pests in many areas around the world, inflicting significant qualitative and quantitative damage to crop production. In this study, we investigate the presence of reproductive symbionts, the [...] Read more.
Mayetiola hordei (Kieffer), known as barley stem gall midge, is one of the most destructive barley pests in many areas around the world, inflicting significant qualitative and quantitative damage to crop production. In this study, we investigate the presence of reproductive symbionts, the effect of geographical origin on the bacterial microbiome’s structure, and the diversity associated with natural populations of M. hordei located in four barley-producing areas in Morocco. Wolbachia infection was discovered in 9% of the natural populations using a precise 16S rDNA PCR assay. High-throughput sequencing of the V3-V4 region of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene indicated that the native environments of samples had a substantial environmental impact on the microbiota taxonomic assortment. Briefly, 5 phyla, 7 classes, and 42 genera were identified across all the samples. To our knowledge, this is the first report on the bacterial composition of M. hordei natural populations. The presence of Wolbachia infection may assist in the diagnosis of ideal natural populations, providing a new insight into the employment of Wolbachia in the control of barley midge populations, in the context of the sterile insect technique or other biological control methods. Full article
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18 pages, 3693 KiB  
Article
Synthesis of Carvacrol-Loaded Invasomes Nanoparticles Improved Acaricide Efficacy, Cuticle Invasion and Inhibition of Acetylcholinestrase against Hard Ticks
by Amr Gamal, Shawky M. Aboelhadid, Fatma I. Abo El-Ela, Abdel-Azeem S. Abdel-Baki, Samar M. Ibrahium, Almahy M. EL-Mallah, Saleh Al-Quraishy, Ahmed O. Hassan and Sahar M. Gadelhaq
Microorganisms 2023, 11(3), 733; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms11030733 - 13 Mar 2023
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1642
Abstract
Carvacrol is a monoterpenoid phenol found in many essential oils that has antibacterial, antifungal and antiparasitic activities. Drug loaded-invasome systems are used to deliver drugs utilizing nanoparticles to improve bioavailability, efficacy, and drug release duration. As a result, the present study developed carvacrol-loaded [...] Read more.
Carvacrol is a monoterpenoid phenol found in many essential oils that has antibacterial, antifungal and antiparasitic activities. Drug loaded-invasome systems are used to deliver drugs utilizing nanoparticles to improve bioavailability, efficacy, and drug release duration. As a result, the present study developed carvacrol-loaded invasomes and evaluated their acaricidal effect against Rhipicephalus annulatus (cattle tick) and Rhipicephalus sanguineus (dog tick). Carvacrol loaded-invasome (CLI) was prepared and characterized using UV/Vis spectrophotometer, zeta potential measurements, Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy (STEM), Fourier Transform Infrared (FT-IR) Spectroscopy, and Differential Scanning Calorimetry Analysis. CLI (5%) induced significant mortality (100%) in R. annulatus adult ticks with LC50 of 2.60%, whereas the LC50 of pure carvacrol was 4.30%. Carvacrol and CLI were shown to have a significant larvicidal action on both tick species, with LC50s of 0.24 and 0.21% against R. annulatus and 0.27 and 0.23% against R. sanguineus, respectively. Carvacrol and CLI (5%) induced significant repellent activities for 24 h against R. annulatus and R. sanguineus, as evidenced by the rod method and the petri-dish selective area choice method, respectively. High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) demonstrated that the CLI form had 3.86 times the permeability of pure carvacrol. Moreover, carvacrol and CLI inhibited acetylcholinesterase activity and decreased glutathione and malonedealdehyde levels in the treated ticks. In conclusion, invasomes significantly improved adulticidal and repellency activities of carvacrol against both tick species. Full article
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Review

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32 pages, 1418 KiB  
Review
Anti-Insect Properties of Penicillium Secondary Metabolites
by Rosario Nicoletti, Anna Andolfi, Andrea Becchimanzi and Maria Michela Salvatore
Microorganisms 2023, 11(5), 1302; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms11051302 - 16 May 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1665
Abstract
In connection with their widespread occurrence in diverse environments and ecosystems, fungi in the genus Penicillium are commonly found in association with insects. In addition to some cases possibly implying a mutualistic relationship, this symbiotic interaction has mainly been investigated to verify the [...] Read more.
In connection with their widespread occurrence in diverse environments and ecosystems, fungi in the genus Penicillium are commonly found in association with insects. In addition to some cases possibly implying a mutualistic relationship, this symbiotic interaction has mainly been investigated to verify the entomopathogenic potential in light of its possible exploitation in ecofriendly strategies for pest control. This perspective relies on the assumption that entomopathogenicity is often mediated by fungal products and that Penicillium species are renowned producers of bioactive secondary metabolites. Indeed, a remarkable number of new compounds have been identified and characterized from these fungi in past decades, the properties and possible applications of which in insect pest management are reviewed in this paper. Full article
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