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Crop Protection
Vol. 31, No.
1, 2012; Pages: 72 - 77

Isolation of entomopathogenic Bacillus from a biodynamic olive farm and their pathogenicity to lepidopteran and coleopteran insect pests

Imen Blibech, Mohieddine Ksantini, Ikbal Chaieb, Brahim Jlassi, Ali Rhouma, Samir Jaoua, Sami Aifa

Department of Plant Protection and Environment, Institut de l’Olivier, Route de l’Aéroport 1.5 km, BP. 1087 – 3000, Sfax, Tunisia.


The occurrence of Bacillus entomopathogenic bacteria on a Tunisian biodynamic farm was determined by examining 75 samples from olive tree (Olea europaea L.) habitats. A total of 40 Bacillus isolates were characterized according to their phenotypic, physiological and biochemical parameters. Isolates of the species Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus mycoides, Brevibacillus brevis, Paenibacillus polymyxa, Bacillus licheniformis, Bacillus sp. (1), Bacillus sp. (2) and a standard strain Btk HD-1 were used separately in feeding bioassays on fresh artificial diet against larvae of lepidopterans Prays oleae (Bernard) and Palpita unionalis (Hübner) and coleopterans Hylesinus oleiperda (F.) and Phloeotribus scarabaeoides (Bernard), which are olive tree pests. Larvae were successfully reared on an artificial diet with 25 g powdered olive tree leaves. Compared to the control data, only Btk and the isolates of B. licheniformis, P. polymyxa and B. brevis were entomopathogenic. Larval mortality assessed 7 days post-treatment showed high mortality rates with Btk to lepidopteran larvae (86.6% for P. oleae and 80.9% for P. unionalis) and low mortality against coleopteran pests. B. brevis isolates showed high mortality rates against P. oleae (up to 67.9%). B. licheniformis isolates caused up to 59.2% larval mortality for P. oleae and 43.6% for P. unionalis. Highest coleopteran mortality was achieved by P. polymyxa isolates (up to 55%). According to the 16S rDNA results, isolates of each of the three entomopathogenic strains were similar. Proteins in the strain supernatants were toxic to P. oleae larvae with LC50 values of 10.0 (B. brevis), 12.5 (B. licheniformis) and 37.6 μg/ml (P. polymyxa). Also, P. polymyxa showed an LC50 of 12.4 mg/l against P. scarabaeoides. Our results suggest that entomopathogenic Bacillus present locally in the biodynamic farm could be used in biological control programmes of olive tree pests.

Keywords: Organic farming; Olive tree;  Prays oleae; Palpita unionalis;  Hylesinus oleiperda;  Phloeotribus scarabaeoidesBacillus sp;  Biological control



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