Inhibition of Fungal Growth in Thermoregulating Locusts, Locusta Migratoria, Infected by the Fungus Metarhizium Anisopliae Var Acridum

J Invertebr Pathol. 2003 Feb;82(2):103-9. doi: 10.1016/s0022-2011(02)00185-4.


The locust, Locusta migratoria, has the capacity to develop a behavioural fever which reduces fungal infection by Metarhizium anisopliae var acridum. We investigated hemocyte and blastospore kinetics in infected insects under conditions that did or did not allow thermoregulation. Hemocyte concentrations were severely reduced in inoculated insects that did not thermoregulate but remained similar to those of controls in inoculated insects that were allowed to thermoregulate. Reductions in hemocyte counts were accompanied by an increase in the concentration of blastospores. In non-thermoregulating insects, circulating blastospores were first observed two days post-inoculation and had heavily colonized the hemolymph by day 5; in contrast, no blastospores were recovered from hemolymph of inoculated-thermoregulating insects. We used fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-labelled silica beads to examine in vivo phagocytosis in thermoregulating and non-thermoregulating locusts. In the absence of fungus, a greater proportion of beads were engulfed by hemocytes in thermoregulating than in non-thermoregulating locusts early (4 and 24h) after bead injection, but the proportions were similar thereafter. In infected locusts, phagocytosis in non-thermoregulating insects was progressively impaired; such impairment, however, was not observed in challenged, thermoregulating insects. Our results suggest that thermoregulation helped keep fungal growth in check, apparently through the maintenance of hemocyte population levels and the direct inhibition of blastospore propagation by elevated temperatures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Temperature Regulation*
  • Grasshoppers / microbiology*
  • Mitosporic Fungi / growth & development*
  • Mycoses / physiopathology*