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Revista mexicana de ciencias agrícolas

versión impresa ISSN 2007-0934

Rev. Mex. Cienc. Agríc vol.7 no.8 Texcoco nov./dic. 2016



Biological control of leaf-footed bug in purging nut under laboratory conditions

Oscar Daniel Barrera Sánchez1 

Gloria Humberta Calyecac Cortero2 

Víctor Rogelio Castrejón Gómez1 

Jesús Axayacatl Cuevas Sánchez1  § 

1Universidad Autónoma Chapingo- Horticultura, Fitotecnia y Preparatoria Agrícola.

2Centro de Producción de Productos Bióticos. IPN. Carretera Yautepec-Jojutla, km 6, calle CEPROBI Núm. 8, Col. San Isidro, Yautepec, Morelos, México. C. P. 6231. (;;


Jatropha curcas L. commonly known as purging nut, is often used to produce biodiesel using oil extracted from its seeds, in Mexico, in Totonacapan these (toasted), have been used as human food, making clear its domestication and anthropocentric importance. However, currently this species faces the incidence of various pests, highlighting the leaf-footed bug, Leptoglossus zonatus (Dallas). The incidence of this insect reduces seed yield up to 21%. The use of entomopathogenic fungi can be a viable alternative as biological control. This study aimed to evaluate the pathogenicity and virulence of three Beavueria bassiana (Bals.) strains on adults of this species under laboratory conditions. The BB01 strain isolated from Melanoplus spp., recorded a mortality rate of 85.7% in the first assay and 100% in the second bioassay, strain that was extracted from L. zonatus. The 50 lethal dose (LD50) was 5.2 x 107 conidia ml-1 and lethal time 50 (LT50) was 5.9 days. For mean comparison, the Tukey tests (α= 0.05) and LSD (α= 0.06) were used in the first and second assay respectively. Probit analysis was used for variables LD50 and LT50 using S.A.S version 9.0, concluding that this strain showed greater potential to be used in field conditions as a control agent for the pest.

Keywords: Leptoglossus zonatus (Dallas); Beauveria bassiana (Bals.); Jatropha curcas L.; biological control


Si bien Jatropha curcas L. comúnmente conocido como piñón de cerro, es frecuentemente usado para producir biodiesel mediante el uso del aceite extraído de sus semillas, en México, en el Totonacapan estas (tostadas), se han empleado milenariamente como alimento humano, haciendo evidente su domesticación e importancia antropocéntrica. No obstante, actualmente esta especie enfrenta la incidencia de diversas plagas, destacando la chinche pata de hoja, Leptoglossus zonatus (Dallas). La incidencia de este insecto reduce el rendimiento de la semilla hasta en 21%. El uso de hongos entomopatógenos puede ser una alternativa viable para su control biológico. El presente estudio tuvo como objetivo evaluar la patogenicidad y virulencia de tres cepas de Beavueria bassiana (Bals.), sobre adultos de esta especie bajo condiciones de laboratorio. La cepa BB01 aislada de Melanoplus spp., registró una mortalidad de 85.7% en el primer ensayo y del 100% en el segundo bioensayo cuya cepa fue extraída de L. zonatus. La dosis letal 50 (DL50) fue de 5.2 x 107 conidios ml-1 y el tiempo letal 50 (TL50) fue de 5.9 días. Para la comparación de medias se utilizaron las pruebas de Tukey (α= 0.05) y LSD (α= 0.06) en el primer y segundo ensayo respectivamente. Para las variables DL50 y TL50 se utilizó un análisis Probit mediante el programa S.A.S versión 9.0 concluyéndose que dicha cepa evidenció mayor potencial de ser usada en condiciones de campo como agente de control para dicha plaga.

Palabras clave: Leptoglossus zonatus (Dallas); Beauveria bassiana (Bals.); Jatropha curcas L.; control biológico


Jatropha curcas L. (Euphorbiaceae) is native to Mexico and Central America, its main use is for biodiesel through transesterification of oils extracted from the seeds. Currently this species is distributed in Central and South America, Africa, India, Southeast Asia and Australia (Carels, 2009). Due to its high oil and protein content (40% and up 28% respectively), is being widely studied in the world (Francis et al., 2013). J. curcas commonly known as purging nut is a species that in Mexico has several traditional uses, mainly in the Huasteca and Totonac towns (Totonacapan); as stake for vanilla, for the preparation of traditional foods, for reforestation, hedge rows, soil conservation, medicinal and industrial potential use as bioenergy (Vera et al., 2014).

Within the group of pests that attack purging nut is Leptoglossus zonatus Dallas (Heteroptera: Coreidae), commonly known as “leaf-footed bug". This insect is a generalist that feeds on a wide range of plants among which are staple crops such as maize, sorghum, beans, tomatoes, citrus and fruit trees like guava and some passion fruit (Xiao and Fadamiro, 2009). The leaf-footed bug is found feeding and breeding in purging nut. L. zonatus nymphs and adults that feed on fruits of J. curcas, reduce seed yield up to 21% (Morales et al., 2011). However, according to Calyecac (Pers. Comm.), this problem is increasing considerably in monoculture.

Due to purging nut has a nutritional, medicinal potential and that may be associated with other plant species of food importance to man, the search of alternatives for biological control to this pests are very important.

The use of entomopathogenic fungi to control pests from crops has been extensively studied and used in the world, because naturally in agro-ecosystems there is a specific relationship, in many cases, between pathogen and host (Gruwel and Eigenberg, 2007). Entomopathogenic fungi infect individuals in all insect orders, mainly in Hemiptera, Diptera, Coleoptera, Lepidoptera, Hymenoptera and Orthoptera (Kirkland et al., 2004). In Nicaragua two entomopathogenic fungi Beauveria bassiana and Metarhizium anisopliae (Metsch) Sorok showed satisfactory control of L. zonatus in purging nut (Grimm and Guharay, 1998).

Due to the importance of J. curcas as potential for human food and because there are few studies aimed to biological control of pests of it, in this study the effect of three native Mexican strains of B. bassiana were evaluated to control L. zonatus under laboratory conditions.

Materials and methods

Insect Collection

L. zonatus adults were captured in an experimental plantation of J. curcas in the Development Center of Biotic Products from thr National Polytechnic Institute (CEPROBI) located in Barranca Honda, Yautepec Morelos (18° 49' north latitude and 99° 05' west longitude) at an elevation of 1071 masl with an annual average rainfall of 1050 mm and an average annual temperature of 22 °C (García, 1987). Adults were also collected in bean and sorghum plots from the community of San Isidro Yautepec, near CEPROBI and in sorghum plots within the main municipality.

After the collection, insects were established in the laboratory from the National Plant Germplasm Bank (BANGEV) located in the Department of Plant Science at the Autonomous University of Chapingo (UACH) (Carretera Mexico-Texcoco km 38.5, Chapingo, Mexico state).

Insects were isolated in glass cages 30 x 30 x 40 cm and subjected to observation for five days to ensure that these were free of pathogens and parasites. The environment inside the cage was at a temperature of 25 to 30 ° C and relative humidity of 65 to 78%. Humidity was controlled with an electric humidifier Duracraft. Temperature was regulated by the heat emitted by 100 watts bulbs. Adults of L. zonatus were fed with sweet corn grains, fresh purging nut and fresh bean pods, previously washed with distilled water (Xiao and Fadamiro, 2009).

Fungi characteristics

The strains used in bioassays (Table 1) were provided by the State Plant Health Committee of Guanajuato (CESAVEG) through MC Fernando Tamayo and reactivated at UACH, in culture medium solidified saborau dextrose agar (ADS), and kept in plastic Petri dishes at 25 °C for use in bioassays.

Table 1 Origin of B. bassiana strains used in bioassays. 

Cepa Aislamiento Lugar de colecta y coordenadas geográficas Fecha de colecta Fecha de reactivación
BB01 Chapulín Melanoplus spp. San Bartolo, Municipio de Apaseo el Alto, Guanajuato (20°30´47.77´´N, 100° 33’ 2.05’’ O) 10/02/2004 14/04/2009
BB02 Chinche Lygus spp. En maíz Irapuato (20°44´50.71´´N, 101°19’38.1’’O). 08/08/2004 14/04/2009
BB32 Bactericera spp. en chile Irapuato 08/08/2004 14/04/2009

Evaluation of pathogenicity from three strain of B. bassiana

Pathogenicity and virulence were evaluated for the three strains and a control using a completely randomized design, each treatment had three replications and nine insects per repetition. For five days, adults of L. zonatus were kept isolated. At the end of the quarantine were immersed for three seconds in an aqueous suspension Tween 80 at 0.03% with 1 x 108 conidia mL-1 for each strain. The control consisted only in the immersion of the insects in water with Tween 80 at 0.03%. Immediately after immersion, insects were placed in Petri dishes with filter paper in order to remove excess of the suspension (Grimm and Guharay, 1998). Later insects were placed in plastic containers of 500 cm3 according to each treatment and were fed with fresh fruits of J. curcas and fresh bean pods. During the bioassay, insects were kept in an incubator (Seedburo MP6-3000 B) at a temperature of 24 ± 1 °C with a range of relative humidity from 65 to 78% (Xiao and Fadamiro, 2009).

Mortality assessment

Insect mortality was counted daily for 50 days and was adjusted through Abbott's formula. Dead insects were placed individually in Petri dishes with sterile filter paper moistened with distilled water and incubated for two weeks at 25 °C to promote the mycelia growth and production of conidia.

The sporulation percentage was determined and also the intensity thereof submerging sporulated insects in a solution Tween 80 at 0.03%. Stirred manually for 1 minute and then 10 µL aliquot was taken and diluted in 1 mL of the solution indicated at 0.03% and counted conidia using a Neubauer chamber.

Conidial germination

Conidial germination rate was determined by taking samples from the same suspension used in this bioassay (1 x 108 conidia mL-1) and placing aliquots of 10 µL in Petri dishes with ADS solidified and incubated for 24 h at 25 ± 1 °C . After this period, the number of germinated units of each 300 conidia was counted using a Neubauer chamber. This step was performed six times per strain.

Biological effectiveness of strain BB01

Once it was determined that the BB01 strain was the most pathogenic and virulent according to the results from the above assay, six treatments with three replicates, eight insects per replicate were established. Treatments consisted of five conidia concentrations (1 x 104, 105, 106, 107, 108 conidia ml-1) suspended in a solution Tween 80 at 0.03% and control which was only Tween 80 at 0.03%.

Conidia concentrations that cause 50% mortality, lethal dose 50 (LD50) was calculated taking into account the number of insects alive at the beginning and end of each treatment, including replications. The time in which 50% of the population died, lethal time 50 (LT50) was evaluated for both assays calculated through Probit analysis.

Data analysis

Data variables: 1) mortality rate; 2) sporulation percentage; 3) sporulation intensity; and 4) spore germination, were analyzed under a completely randomized design with an analysis of variance using SAS statistical software version 9.0 and a comparison of means using Tukey with a confidence interval of α= 0.05 for the first bioassay and LSD test with α= 0.06 for the second bioassay. The determination and evaluation of mortality rate, percentage and sporulation concentration were conducted in the same manner as in the first assay.

Results and discussion

Pathogenicity of three strains of B bassiana

BB01 strain isolated from Melanoplus spp., was the strain with the highest mortality (85.71%) and higher percentage spore germination (99.28%), compared to the other two strains. In the variable percentage and sporulation concentration, there were no statistically significant differences (Table 2).

Table 2 Mortality and sporulation rate, sporulation concentration and germination of conidia from three B. bassiana strains on adults of L. zonatus

Cepa Mortalidad (%) Esporulación (%) Concentración de la esporulación (1) Germinación de conidias (%)
BB01 85.71 a* 93.33 a 18.8925 a 99.28 a
BB02 42.86 ab 66.67 a 19.2370 a 96.67 b
BB32 47.62 ab 88.89 a 18.5920 a 95.40 b
TESTIGO 22.22 b 0.00 b ----- ------

(1) logaritmo natural (Ln) de la cantidad de conidas mL-1, *; letra diferente indica diferencia estadísticamente significativa (p= 0.05) en la prueba de Tukey.

Figure 1 Sporulation of three Beauveria bassiana strains on adults of Leptoglossus zonatus

Beavueria bassiana has been used to regulate populations of different Coleopteran genera Diabrotica Colapis and Maecolapis (Sosa et al., 1994) also reduces by up to 50 to 70% populations of Ixodes scapularis and Rhipicephalus sanguineus (Kirkland et al., 2004). The application of B. bassiana in the soil reduces the emergence of adults of Diabrotica undecimpunctata, and root damage is less severe in soil treated with the fungus than in soils infested with the pest without conidial treatment (Krueger and Roberts, 1997). Grimm and Guharay (1998) mentioned that can also be used as a biological control agent for L. zonatus and Pachycoris klugii, which are the two main pests of J. curcas in Nicaragua, Guatemala and Brazil.

It is possible that B. bassiana can exercise effective control in L. zonatus due to the high mortality rate obtained in this work, however, it must be taken into account that for an organism to be used as a biological control agent, is not enough a high mortality rate on the target organism, but must also achieve mortality fairly rapidly, so that lethal time 50, is a variable that becomes important. The BB01 strain evaluated in this study reached TL50 at 7.8 days, followed by BB02 and BB32 with 16.9 and 17.4 days, respectively (Table 3).

Table 3 Lethal time 50 in days and significance of three strains of B. bassiana on adults of L. zonatus. 

Cepa TL50 Pr > ChiSq
BBO1 7.80679 <.0001
BB02 16.98266 <.0001
BB32 17.43740 <.0001

Figure 2 Lethal time 50 of three strains of Beauveria bassiana on adults of Leptoglossus zonatus. 

In relation to the speed of the fungus to have an effect on their host, Lezama et al., (1998) mention that some strains of B. bassiana exhibit varying virulence on Spodoptera frugiperda, with parasitism up to 90% in eggs and 100% in larvae, the most outstanding insulation wan an LT50 of 3.1 and 2.8 days in eggs and larvae of the same insect, and an LD50 of 2.4 x 103 conidia mL-1. Moreover, in bioassays performed on banana weevil Cosmopolites sordius, B. bassiana causes mortality of 63-97% at 35 days after exposure to the spores (Kaaya et al., 1993). Given the above, it is possible to note that mortality and speed at which B. bassiana acts, depends on a) inoculated organism, b) fungus concentration of the application, c) state of development of target organism e) environmental conditions.

In bioassays on M. sanguinipes, strains of B. bassiana GK2016, "wild-type" (virulent) and GK2051, showed a LT50 of 5.8 and 7.8 days, respectively, although there were only two days apart in the LT50 value, strain GK2051 required 17 days to kill 90% of the population and never produced 100% mortality, while strain "wild type" GK2016, caused 00% death in 8-10 days (Kosir et al., 1991). Grimm and Guharay (1998) report that when evaluating mortality on adults of L. zonatus inoculated with three different strains of B. bassiana, reached 50% mortality between 10 and 13 days after inoculation. It is possible to deduce that mortality of an organism, not only depends on its characteristics, but also depends on the characteristics of the strain used.

Considering the results shown, strain BB01 from B. bassiana evaluated in this experiment, is pathogenic and virulent on adults of L. zonatus than strains of the same fungus reported by Grimm and Guharay (1998), for the control of the same insect.

Biological effectiveness of strain BB01 from B. bassiana

Due to higher mortality rate (85.7%), less time in days to reach LT50 (7.8 days) and the highest spore germination rate (99.28%), strain BB01 was used for the second bioassay. The suspension of 1 x 108 conidia ml-1 was the one with the highest values in variables mortality (100%), sporulation (79.16%) and sporulation concentration (19.53) compared to other treatments (Table 4).

Table 4 Mortality and sporulation rate, sporulation concentration of strain BB01 from B. bassiana on adults of L. zonatus

Tratamiento Mortalidad (%) Esporulación (%) Concentración de la esporulación (1)
1x104 75.12 ab* 50.233 b 18.4533 c
1x105 70.15 b 62.667 ab 19.4600 ab
1x106 70.14 b 53.373 b 18.7333 bc
1x107 80.11 ab 68.053 ab 19.1300 abc
1x108 100.0 a 79.167 a 19.5333 a
Testigo 16.67 c 0.000 c 0.0000 d

(1) logaritmo natural (Ln) de la cantidad de conidas mL-1, *; diferente letra indica diferencias significativas entre tratamientos bajo la prueba LSD (p== 0.06).

In this regard, the mortality of larvae and adults of potato beetle Leptinotarsa decemlineata is related with applications in different doses (1 x 104, 3 x 104 and 1 x 105 conidia cm2-1 leaf area) of B. bassiana (Fargues et al., 1994). Moreover, Grimm and Guharay (1998), by studying the effect of different strains of B. bassiana (1 x 107 conidia mL-1) on adults of L. zonatus, found mortalities of 88 to 99%. Different doses of strain BB01 from B. bassiana (Table 4), evaluated in this study, presented mortalities from 70% to 100%, the latter value was obtained in the concentration 1 x 108 conidia mL-1, so the mortality of L. zonatus is also related to the applied doses of the fungus.

Susceptibility and the relationship of fungi with the host are associated with nutrients present on insect body, which in turn are the medium for propagation, dispersion and persistence of such organisms (Gruwel and Eigenberg, 2007). Because of this, sporulation of the fungus in the insect's body is a dispersion medium and spread as seen in fire ant nests, Solenopsis invicta, where B. bassiana grows and sporulates (Pereira et al., 1993), thus representing a potential biological control agent for this ant (Siebenelcher et al., 1992). In this experiment, the dose 1 x 108 conidia mL-1 had the highest sporulation (79.167%) (Table 4), so the dispersibility of the fungus and infection to other insects, is greater.

LD50 of strain BB01 on adults of L. zonatus was 5.2 x 107 conidia mL-1 (Pr> ChiSq= 0.0021) (Table 5), so that LD50 is within the range of concentrations evaluated in this work.

Table 5 Lethal dose 50 in conidia mL-1 of strain BB01 from B. bassiana in adults of L. zonatus. 

Tiempo DL50* Pr > ChiSq
8 Días 52903196 0.0021

*Conidias por mililitro.

In this regard doses of B. bassiana close to LD50 reduced the reproductive potential of S. lineatus, fertility and fecundity of C. suppressalis and egg development of leafhoppers in rice plants (Feng et al., 1994). Moreover isolates of B. bassiana on larvae and adults of S. frugiperda, showed an LD50 of 2.4 x 103 conidia mL-1 and a TL50 of 3.8 days (Lezama et al., 1996).

Figure 3 Lethal time 50 of three Beauveria bassiana strains on adults of Leptoglossus zonatus

The dose of 1 x 108 conidia mL-1 was the one with the lowest value in TL50 (5.9 days), so it is the dose that kills faster 50% of the population of L. zonatus (Table 6).

Table 6 Lethal time 50 in days of strain BB01 from B. bassiana in adults of L. zonatus. 

Cepa TL50* Pr > ChiSq
1X104 13.15832 <.0001
1X105 16.22547 <.0001
1X106 15.41490 <.0001
1X107 10.88828 <.0001
1X108 5.95965 <.0001

*Tiempo letal 50 en días.

The lethal dose 50 of Diatrea sacharalis is related to the ingested spores dose, given the first deaths attributed to B. bassiana, which occurred at 7.7 days at dose 1 x 108 conidia mL-1, while for Tetranychus urtice with a dose 1 x 108 conidia mL-1, lethal dose 50 was at 3.6 days after inoculation (Batista et al., 2004). Moreover, B. bassiana is a potential organism to be used in biological control of aphids. In a bioassay performed with doses of 1 x 104- 1 x 108 conidia mL-1, the fungus showed a high level of virulence on the aphid Phorodon humuli, obtaining a LD50 of 1.37 x 105 conidia mL-1 and TL50 reduced as conidia dose increased (Dorschner et al., 1991). Something similar happened in this paper because higher doses had the lowest values in TL50 (Table 6).

Whereas cited, B. bassiana is a fungus that can be used for biological control of populations of L. zonatus in an innocuous way, since it does not generate pollution to the environment; however, there is the potential risk of damaging some beneficial organisms. Because of this, there is need to perform studies in greenhouse and field to validate the effectiveness of this fungi against L. zonatus under different conditions.


The effect of the three strains of Beauveria bassiana was pathogenic and virulent on adults L. zonatus.

The evaluated strains showed different levels of pathogenicity and virulence on adults of L. zonatus.

The BB01 strain showed greater potential as a biological control agent of L. zonatus.

There is a direct relationship between pathogenicity and virulence of B. bassiana (BB01) strains with applied dose on adults of L. zonatus.

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Received: September 2016; Accepted: December 2016

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