Fungi such as Beauveria bassiana, Isaria fumosorosea, Metarhizium brunneum are pathogenic to mites and insects and are primarily used for pest management. Some of these are known to endophytically colonize plants and offer protection against arthropod pests feeding on those plants. Some studies have indicated that entomopathogenic fungi can also provide protection against plant pathogens.
In an effort to explore the endophytic potential of entomopathogenic fungi for strawberry pest management, studies were conducted in 2010 using commercial and California isolates of B. bassiana and M. brunneum where B. bassiana successfully colonized strawberry plants and persisted for up to 9 weeks in various plant tissues. Observations during this study suggested that endophytic entomopathogenic fungi could be aiding in plant health probably through mycorrhizal activity by improving water and nutrient absorption. Based on these observations, a small study was conducted to evaluate the impact of B. bassiana on strawberry plant health in comparison with a commercial product intended to promote plant growth, health, and yield.
This study was conducted in collaboration with Los Angeles County Pitchess Detention Center where inmates assisted in taking care of the plants and collecting data. As a part of the MERIT (Maximising Education Reaching Individual Transformation) Masters program, some inmates were selected to participate in this project. Since this was the first project in such collaboration, a simple experiment was designed for easy execution and data collection.
Treatments included i) Untreated control, ii) HYTA – which contains soil-based microorganisms that enhance nitrogen absorption, solubilize nutrients, and build soil organic matter, and iii) B. bassiana (Mycotrol –O). Transplants of the strawberry variety Monterey were treated by applying HYTA or B. bassiana to the root system in transplant treys. Planting was done 48 hours after treatment in 20X5X2’ raised beds. Plants were regularly watered and fertilized with fish emulsion. Plant health was monitored for about three months starting from 4 weeks after planting. Plants were periodically observed and their health was rated on a scale of 0-5 where 0= dead, 1=weak, 2 and 3=moderate, 4=good, and 5=very good.
Except for a few aphids on some plants, the trial did not have any pest infestations. Plants treated with B. bassiana were rated higher than untreated control or those treated with HYTA throughout the observation period although differences were not statistically significant on all observations dates. While the plant health rating ranged from 2.3 to 3.0 for untreated control, it was between 2.6 and 3.5 for those treated with HYTA and 2.9 to 4.1 for those treated with B. bassiana. The average seasonal health rating was 2.8, 3.2, and 3.6 for untreated, HYTA, and B. bassiana, respectively. Fruit yield could not be monitored due to some technical difficulties.
Beneficial microorganisms establish symbiotic relationship with plants and serve as extended root system improving the absorption of nutrients and moisture. By colonizing the roots and other plant tissues, they can also provide protection against plant pathogens. Several commercial formulations of fungus and bacteria based beneficial organisms are currently available for use on various crops. This preliminary study demonstrates that B. bassiana promotes plant health and can play an important role in crop production in addition to the primary role of pest management. Additional studies can further explore the potential of entomopathogenic fungi in promoting plant growth and improving yield as well as providing protection against pests and diseases.
Adrianne Ferree, Assistant Director, Jail Enterprises Unit collaborated in this project with the support of Chief Alex Yim. One of the two inmates who participated in this project took an online Plant Science course and used this study as his class project. He intends to pursue agronomy after his release. It is a great experience for me to be involved in the MERIT Masters program and introduce agricultural research to the inmates.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Mike Fahner, Cedar Point Nursery for providing transplants and Joe Coelho, DB Specialty Farms for providing drip tapes and plastic mulch.
Bisutti, I. L., S. Steen, and D. Stephan. 2013. Does Metarhizium anisopliae influence strawberries in presence of pest and disease? XLVI Annual meetings of the Society for Invertebrate Pathology, August 11-15, Pittsburgh, PA.
Dara, S.K. and S. R. Dara. 2010. Endophytic colonization of entomopathogenic fungi in strawberry plants. XLIII Annual meetings of the Society for Invertebrate Pathology, July 11-15, 2010, Trabzon, Turkey.
Dara, S. K., S. R. Dara,. and S. S. Dara. 2013. Exploring the potential of Beauveria bassiana and azadirachtin for managing strawberry pests. Proceedings of the II International Strawberry Congress, September 4-6, 2013, Antwerp, Belgium.
Miller T.C., W. D. Gubler, F. F. Laemmlen, S. Geng, and D. M. Rizzo. 2004. Potential for using Lecanicillium lecanii for suppression of strawberry powdery mildew, Biocon. Sci. Technol., 14: 215-220.
Ownley, B.H., R.M. Pereira, W. E. Klingeman, N.B. Quigley, and B. M. Leckie. 2004. Beauveria bassiana, a dual purpose biocontrol organism, with activity against insect pests and plant pathogens. Lartey, R.T., Caesar, A.J., editors. Research Signpost, Kerala, India. Emeging Concepts in Plant Health Management. 2004. p. 255-269.
Different species of spider mites attack strawberry plants. Spider mites feed on the underside of the leaves, scrape the tissue, and suck the plant juices. As a result, corresponding area on the upper leaf surface initially shows yellow spots. As the damage advances, these spots expand and gradually turn into brownish, dry patches of dead plant tissue.
Twospotted spider mite infestation and damage on the lower side of the leaves causes yellow discoloration on the upper side (above) in Albion. Stippling of yellow spots on an infested foliage (below). (Photos by Surendra Dara)
Spider mite damage symptom in Benicia, the new short-day (June-bearing) cultivar from University of California, seems to be different compared to other varieties. While the upper leaf surface corresponding to the damaged lower surface shows initial yellow discoloration even at high mite densities in varieties such as Albion or San Andreas, it turns dark purple in Benicia even at low to moderate mite densities. Physiological response of Benicia to mite damage probably contributes to this unique symptom. Such a discoloration can be useful for early and easy detection of spider mite infestations.
Benicia is adapted for early planting and produces larger fruits with excellent flavor compared to some other short-day varieties.
Pallidosis-related decline or pallidosis disease of strawberries is a viral disease that appeared in several fields in the Santa Maria area early this year. It is caused by a variety or viruses transmitted by insect vectors such as greenhouse whitefly, strawberry aphid, and thrips and other sources such as pollen, seed (not in the fruit production fields), and nematodes. In addition to the routinely present strawberry aphids and thrips, increasing populations of greenhouse whitefly in strawberry fields contribute to the spread of the disease. Severity of the symptoms varies depending on the strawberry cultivar, level of viral infection, and type of virus involved.
Good agricultural practices to obtain clean transplants, maintain and promote plant health, monitor and manage insect vectors are important to address the disease issue. Since virus does not remain for too long in whiteflies, maintaining a host-free period of at least one month can reduce the risk of disease transmission by whiteflies which are occurring in large numbers in the recent years. Timely disposal or crop residue, avoiding second-year crop, and effective and timely management of whiteflies to prevent their spread to new plantings are among recommended practices to address pallidosis disease.
Here is a short video to provide a quick overview of the disease.
Additional information on this disease can be found at:
Viral disease pallidosis-related decline confirmed in strawberries (http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=10773)
Increased whitefly risk to strawberries as a pest and a vector of the viral disease, pallidosis-related decline (http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=10824)
Compared to the number of queries I received last year, it has been fairly quiet about the Bagrada bug infestations. Here is a brief update on the assays I conducted with some non-chemical control options and a short video I made to describe the biology, damage, and control of this pest.
Laboratory assays were conducted using various non-chemical pesticides that included entomopathogenic fungi, bacterial metabolites, pyrethrins, insecticidal soap, and essential oils. Some of these may not have OMRI certification and these are only preliminary experimental results. Products were used at field application rates. Broccoli florets were treated with respective treatment materials and adult Bagrada bugs were released. Assays were repeated three times. Due to the lack of a laboratory colony of Bagrada bugs, additional assays could not be conducted to evaluate more control options.
Bagrada bug video
A short video was made to provide a quick overview about the Bagrada bug, its host range, life cycle, identification, damage symptoms, and control options. While my previous articles and other resources provide several details, this video is intended to summarize basic information in less than 3 minutes. Several people confuse harlequin bugs with Bagrada bugs and this video helps them compare these two species and see the difference.
A picture is worth a thousand words, but these days a short video is worth several pictures.
Previous articles on the Bagrada bug could be found at:
Greenhouse whitefly (Trialeurodes vaporariorum) is the predominant species of whiteflies on strawberries in the Central Coast. What used to be a pest causing yield loss through direct damage has now emerged as a vector of a devastating viral disease called pallidosis-related decline of strawberries.
In addition to strawberries, greenhouse whiteflies have a wide host range that includes important commodities such as avocados, caneberries, grapes, lettuces, peppers, tomatoes, and ornamentals grown in the Central Coast. All these crops serve as a source of infestation to each other and increased the threat of whiteflies not only to agricultural fields, but also to nurseries, and home gardens.
Agricultural Commissioners’ offices in both Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties and UCCE office received calls this year from strawberry growers, nursery producers, and the ornamental industry to address the whitefly issue. In response to this issue, I have increased the outreach efforts about whiteflies, their feeding damage, and disease vectoring potential through extension meetings and publications since January, 2013.
Some fields in the Santa Maria and other areas which suffered from heavy whitefly infestations early in the production season later developed symptoms of pallidosis-related decline. Diagnostic tests conducted by CDFA and USDA laboratories in Salinas and Corvallis (Oregon) identified multiple viruses that cause the decline. Extent of infection varied from mild disease symptoms in some fields to total dieback. Corresponding yield loss also varied registering up to 65% reduction in some fields. Based the feedback received from various sources pallidosis-like symptoms are seen in strawberry cultivars from both public and private breeding programs.
A good understanding of the pest and the disease it vectors is essential for effective management.
Whiteflies get their name from white wings. Greenhouse whitefly is a small (1 mm long) insect with delicate, white, powdery wax covered wings. They deposit pale yellowish green eggs on the lower side of the leaf. Eggs are elongated and attached to the leaf with a short pedicel. Eggs turn dark as they mature. Greenhouse whiteflies have four nymphal instars which are oval, flat, and often semitransparent. Careful observation through a hand lens is necessary to detect their presence. First instar nymphs that emerge from the eggs are called crawlers which move around in search of an ideal feeding site on the leaf. Later instars are immobile. Fourth instar nymphs have red eyes and long, waxy filaments and are referred to as pupae.
Life cycle of greenhouse whitefly. Yellowish green eggs darken as they mature. Nymphs go through four instars which are flat and semitransparent. Fourth instar nymph (empty case after adult emergence seen above) has long filaments, which are characteristic of greenhouse whitefly. Adults have yellowish body and membranous wings covered with white, waxy substance. Photos by Surendra Dara and Jack Kelly Clark (4th instar)
This is a viral disease caused by a complex of viruses transmitted by whiteflies, aphids, thrips, pollen, nematodes, seed, fungus, and unknown sources (Martin and Tzanetakis, 2006). Disease occurs only when one of the whitefly transmitted viruses along with one of the other viruses is present in the plant. Actual mechanism of infection and the synergistic interaction between the virus partners is not clearly known, but symptoms vary depending on the type of virus present. Whitefly-transmitted viruses include Beet pseudo-yellows and Strawberry pallidosis associated viruses (Genus Crinivirus). Non-whitefly transmitted viruses include Apple mosaic, Fragaria chiloensis latent, andStrawberry necrotic shock viruses (Genus Ilavirus) – transmitted by pollen and seed, Arabis mosaic, Raspberry ringspot, Tomato black ring, and Tomato ringspot (Genus Neopvirus), and Strawberry latent ringspot (Genus Sadwavirus)viruses – transmitted by nematodes and seed, and Strawberry chlorotic fleck (Genus Closterovirus), Strawberry crinkle (Genus Cytorhabdovirus), Strawberry latent C (Genus Nucleorhabdovirus), Strawberry mild yellow edge (Genus Potexvirus), Strawberry vein banding (Genus Caulimovirus) viruses – transmitted by aphids. Pallidosis-related decline is caused by viruses transmitted by whiteflies along with those transmitted by pollen, nematodes, fungi, thrips, and aphids. Photo description by Surendra Dara
Pallidosis disease is indigenous to North America which was first described by Frazier and Stubbs in 1969 and first reported in California in 1975 (Mullin et al, 1975). Pallidosis virus could be latent in production fields and generally does not produce severe symptoms without the synergistic interaction with other viruses. Symptoms include stunted plant growth, purple or red coloration especially of older leaves, and brittle roots. When infection progresses, leaves dry out and plants eventually die. Newly emerged leaves may not show infection symptoms due to the seasonal fluctuations of virus titers, but virus is systemic and remains in the infected plants. When pollen-borne virus is involved, plants may recover from the symptoms of infection.
Pallidosis-related decline also referred to as pallidosis disease. A. Infected plant on the right is severely stunted compared to other plants. B. Purple or reddish discoloration of foliage. C. Plant dies as the disease progresses. D. Small plant on the right with foliar discoloration and affected root system. E. Newly emerging leaves from pruned plants start to show discoloration. F. Infected field with several dead or dying plants. Photos by Surendra Dara
Since several recent strawberry cultivars have general tolerance to viruses, symptoms may not be visible when single virus or some combinations of viruses are present. The extent of disease symptoms from pallidosis-related decline also varies depending on strawberry cultivars and the combination of partner viruses. ELISA or PCR techniques are generally necessary to detect the causal organisms in infected plants.
Nematodes are controlled by fumigation and are not a pest in strawberries, in general. Various species of aphids occur at low numbers in California strawberry fields and usually do not require targeted treatments. However, increased whitefly infestations on newly planted strawberries coupled with aphids and pollen transmitted by multiple partner viruses probably contributed to this new problem.
For a problem such as pallidosis-related decline vectored by a widespread pest like whiteflies, a multi-disciplinary approach with the partnership of multiple agencies is required for an area wide management. With overlapping seasons of fall and summer plantings extended by second year production and the presence of other hosts, whiteflies may continue to be present throughout the year and pose an increased risk. Efforts are necessary to break the pest cycle and minimize the disease risk.
Pallidosis disease – There are no chemicals to treat the disease.
- Use disease-free transplants to prevent the introduction of one or more partner viruses into the production fields. Additional virus screening may be necessary to test for more viruses that could contribute to this disease.
- Manage whitefly and aphid vectors to reduce the spread of the disease.
- Avoid planting close to infected fields.
Whiteflies and aphids –
- Monitor for whiteflies and manage them on nearby hosts or second year berry fields especially those upwind before they move to newly planted or other fields. Second year berry fields can be a good source of infestation for the new fields. Pruning them close and discarding the debris is important in reducing the pest pressure.
- Water roadways to prevent dusty conditions to promote natural enemies.
- Conserve natural enemies.
- Chemical control: For whiteflies, use lower volume of spray fluid than usual, pass the sprayer more slowly, and ensure thorough coverage of the lower side of the foliage.
- Rotate chemicals in different modes of action groups.
Chemicals that affect nervous system:
Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nACHR) agonists-Neonecotinoids (4A): Imidacloprid (Admire Pro), thiamethoxam (Actara), and acetamiprid (Assail)
Sodium channel modulators (3): Fenpropathrin (Danitol) and pyrethroids.
Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors–Organophosphates (1B): Diazinon and malathion.
Chemicals tha interfere with growth: Juveline hormone mimics (7C): Pyriproxyfen (Esteem
Other modes of action:Narrow range oil (Omni Oil) and insecticidal soap (M-Pede)
- Botanical pesticides:Azadirachtin is a neem-based insect growth regulator and is effective against immature stages. Natural pyrethrins affect the nervous system as sodium channel modulators.
- Microbial pesticides:Insect pathogenic fungi such as Beauveria bassiana and Isaria fumosorosea can be used against whiteflies and aphids.
Dara, S. 2013. Possible pallidosis-related decline of strawberries in Santa Maria (http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=10523)
Dara, S. 2013. Whiteflies becoming a concern for the strawberry growers (http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=9167).
Frazier, N.W. and L.L. Stubbs. 1969. Pallidosis-A new virus disease of strawberry. Plant Dis. Rep. 53:524-526.
Martin, R. R. and I. E. Tzanetakis. 2006. Characterization and recent advances in detection of strawberry viruses. Plant Dis. 90: 384-396.
Mullin, R. H., N. W. Frazier, and D. E. Schlegel. 1975. Meristem culture of Fragaria chiloensis infected with pallidosis. Plant Dis. Rep. 59: 268.