In addition, it reduces the plantations" lifespan, attacking plants at any state, and leading sometimes to economic losses of 100 percent.
A study developed by the Biologic Diversity Research Group at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, evaluated the efficiency of the fungus Beauveria bassiana to control adult weevils.
The research makes part of a four year process starting with a genetic diversity study of 15 stumps of the fungus B. bassiana, isolated from weevils in plantain"s cultivations.
Weevils were collected in the departments of Quindio, Risaralda and Valle del Cauca, major plantain zones. Jaime Eduardo Muñoz, professor of the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Palmira and the Group"s director, explains the process: "The insects affected by the fungus were isolated and submerged in a solution containing conidia, (fungus reproductive structures) and transferred to glasses where they were fed with plantain shoots".
Due to this genetic diversity studies, it was established that, from the total 15 collected stumps of the B. bassiana, three proved to be the most effective to control plantain"s weevils. "Weevils died between the following five to fifteen days after being infected with the fungus, mortality ranged between 19 to 55 percent for the Cosmopolites, and 41 to 84 percent for the Metamasius," added Muñoz.
What is more interesting is that weevils continue to die because, after being infected, the weevil disseminates the fungus by spreading conidia, infecting supplementary insects. In addition, the studied stumps are genetically different form the rest, preventing the weevils to easily develop fungus resistance.
Today the investigators work will consist of verifying the fungus efficacy in vivo, especially of the three chosen stumps, in order to create a biological product that can be used by plantain producers to reduce the great economic losses that the plague brings each year.
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