The current study aimed to explore the entomopathogenic fungi associated with the larvae of Chilo suppressalis Walker, a serious pest of rice, in northern Iran. The collected specimens were cultured and identified through morphological and molecular methods. The 38 specimens were identified by microscopic examination and genetic sequencing of the ITS region as follows: twenty-one isolates of Beauveria bassiana, five isolates of Akanthomyces lecanii, four isolates of Akanthomyces muscarious, three isolates of Metarhizium anisopliae, two isolates of Hirsutella subulata, two isolates of Trichoderma sp. and one isolate of Aspergillus sp. All the identified isolates were treated on the larvae through bioassay, evaluating the amount of hydrophobin and the activities of proteases, chitinases and lipase to find their virulence. Moreover, the percentage of thermotolerant and cold activity of the isolates were tested to determine their environmental persistence. The overall results revealed the isolates of B. bassiana, including BBRR1, BBAL1 and BBLN1 as the most virulent and environmental adaptive isolates among the fungi associated with C. suppressalis.
Keywords: Chilo suppressalis; entomopathogenic fungi; identification; isolation; pathogenicity.