Flexible metabolism in Metarhizium anisopliae and Beauveria bassiana: role of the glyoxylate cycle during insect pathogenesis

Microbiology (Reading). 2011 Jan;157(Pt 1):199-208. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.042697-0. Epub 2010 Oct 7.


Insect pathogenic fungi such as Metarhizium anisopliae and Beauveria bassiana have an increasing role in the control of agricultural insect pests and vectors of human diseases. Many of the virulence factors are well studied but less is known of the metabolism of these fungi during the course of insect infection or saprobic growth. Here, we assessed enzyme activity and gene expression in the central carbon metabolic pathway, including isocitrate dehydrogenase, aconitase, citrate synthase, malate synthase (MLS) and isocitrate lyase (ICL), with particular attention to the glyoxylate cycle when M. anisopliae and B. bassiana were grown under various conditions. We observed that ICL and MLS, glyoxylate cycle intermediates, were upregulated during growth on 2-carbon compounds (acetate and ethanol) as well as in insect haemolymph. We fused the promoter of the M. anisopliae ICL gene (Ma-icl) to a marker gene (mCherry) and showed that Ma-icl was upregulated when M. anisopliae was grown in the presence of acetate. Furthermore, Ma-icl was upregulated when fungi were engulfed by insect haemocytes as well as during appressorium formation. Addition of the ICL inhibitor 3-nitroproprionate delayed conidial germination and inhibited appressorium formation. These results show that these insect pathogenic fungi have a flexible metabolism that includes the glyoxylate cycle as an integral part of germination, pathogenesis and saprobic growth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Artificial Gene Fusion
  • Beauveria / metabolism*
  • Culture Media / chemistry
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Glyoxylates / metabolism*
  • Hemolymph / microbiology
  • Insecta / microbiology*
  • Luminescent Proteins / genetics
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways / genetics
  • Metarhizium / metabolism*


  • Culture Media
  • Glyoxylates
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • glyoxylic acid