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Title: Cuticle-degrading protease and toxins as virulence markers of Beauveria bassiana (Balsamo) Vuillemin
Authors: Cito, Annarita
Barzanti, Gian Paolo
Strangi, Agostino
Francardi, Valeria
Zanfini, Assunta
Dreassi, Elena 
Issue Date: 2016
Project: None 
Beauveria bassiana is one of the most known entomopathogenic fungal species and its entomopathogenic mechanism involves several bioactive metabolites, mainly cuticle-degrading enzymes and toxic molecules, which are predicted to play a key role as virulence factors. In this study six Beauveria bassiana strains (B 13/I03, B 13/I11, B 13/I49, B 13/I57, B 13/I63, and B 13/I64) were assayed against Tenebrio molitor larvae. Enzymatic activity of total proteases and specifically Pr 1 and Pr 2, as well as the production of toxic compounds were investigated in each fungal strain. Toxins were detected both in vitro—in medium filtrates and mycelia—and in vivo—in Tenebrio molitor larvae infected by the fungal strains tested. B 13/I11 and B 13/I63 strains showed the most significant entomopathogenic activity against Tenebrio molitor larvae (cumulative mortality rate 100 and 97%, respectively; average survival time 5.85 and 6.74 days, respectively). A widely variable and fungal strain-dependent enzymatic activity of total proteases, Pr 1 and Pr 2 was found. Beauvericin, beauvericin A and bassianolide resulted the most prevalent toxins detected in the substrates analyzed. It has been found that an increase of beauvericin content in vivo resulted significantly correlated to a decrease of Tenebrio molitor larvae average survival time in entomopathogenic bioassay (inverse correlation). The involvement of beauvericin in B. bassiana entomopathogenic process is confirmed; in vitro analysis of cuticle degrading proteases activity and toxins production in relation to the methods adopted resulted insufficient for a rapid screening to determine the virulence of B. bassiana strains against Tenebrio molitor larvae.
ISSN: 1521-4028
DOI: 10.1002/jobm.201600022
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