Fungi in the genus Metarhizium are entomopathogens that can establish endophytically inside plants and benefit them through growth promotion and pest suppression. Lab-and greenhouse-based experiments were conducted to examine the effects of endophytic M. robertsii colonization in maize (Zea mays) on fall armyworm (FAW) (Spodoptera frugiperda). Maize seeds were inoculated with M. robertsii conidia, plants were evaluated for endophytic colonization, and then relative growth rate (RGR) and feeding behavior of larval FAW fed leaves from inoculated and uninoculated maize were measured. Endophytic M. robertsii was recovered from 60.5% of inoculated maize. In feeding bioassays, the RGR of larval FAW fed leaves of inoculated maize was no different than the RGR of larvae fed leaves from uninoculated maize. The RGR of larval FAW was positively correlated with the proportion of endophytic colonization of maize leaf and root tissues; however, in feeding assays, FAW larvae demonstrated no preference for consuming leaf tissue from inoculated or uninoculated maize. The proportion of leaf tissue consumed was unrelated to the proportion of M. robertsii-colonization of leaf or root tissue from source plants. We discuss possible reasons why FAW were not affected by endophytic M. robertsii in the context of assay methodology, FAW physiology, and induced maize defenses.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy
- Molecular Biology
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Microbiology (medical)
- Infectious Diseases