Integrated Biological Control of the Sugar Beet Weevil Asproparthenis punctiventris with the Fungus Metarhizium brunneum: New Application Approaches

Pathogens. 2023 Jan 6;12(1):99. doi: 10.3390/pathogens12010099.


The mass occurrence of the sugar beet weevil (Asproparthenis punctiventris, previously Bothynoderes punctiventris) has been endangering sugar beet cultivation in Austria for centuries. Exacerbated by climatic and political changes (warmer, drier spring and limited access to chemical pesticides), new approaches are needed to counter the problem. The aim of our work was to test whether the bioinsecticide Metarhizium brunneum Ma 43 (formerly M. anisopliae var. anisopliae BIPESCO 5/F52) can be used as a sustainable plant protection product against the sugar beet weevil. Our goal was to control the pest in all its development stages through multiple applications. Therefore, GranMetTM-P, a granular formulation of M. brunneum Ma 43, was applied in spring to establish the fungus in the soil, whereas GranMetTM-WP, a liquid formulation of the production strain, was used in early summer on trap ditches and leaves to target the adult weevils. Soil and plant samples as well as weevils were collected during the planting season from the trial sites to evaluate the development of the fungus and the mycosis of the treated weevils. In addition, data on hibernating weevils and their emigration from untreated field sites was collected. In all field sites, the Metarhizium spp. abundance increased above the background level (<1000 CFU g−1 soil dry weight) after application of the product. With an increasing number of treatments per plot, and thus an increased contact possibility between pest and the fungus, a rise in the mycosis rate was observed. In conclusion, the various Metarhizium application strategies, which are already available or in testing, must be implemented to ensure control in both old and new sugar beet fields. Metarhizium is a further asset in the successful control of this sugar beet pest.

Keywords: abundance; entomopathogenic fungus; mass application; mycosis; pest control.