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The effects of insect pathogenic soil fungi and ectomycorrhizal inoculation of birch seedlings on the survival of Otiorhynchus larvae

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• Weevil larvae of the genus Otiorhynchus are a serious problem in agriculture and forestry, causing damage to a wide range of plant species, primarily by larval feeding on roots. Otiorhynchus larvae are a serious pest in forest plantations in Iceland, causing 10–20% mortality of newly-planted seedlings.

• We studied the effects of soil fungi on the survival of Otiorhynchus sulcatus larvae. The larvae were introduced into pots with birch seedlings grown in: (i) nursery peat; (ii) nursery peat inoculated with three different species of ectomycorrhizal fungi; (iii) nursery peat inoculated with insect pathogenic fungi; (iv) nursery peat inoculated with ectomycorrhizal fungi and insect pathogenic fungi; and (v) nursery peat inoculated with natural forest soil from Icelandic birch woodland.

• Larval survival was negatively affected by inoculation of: (i) the ectomycorrhizal fungus Laccaria laccata; (ii) the ectomycorrhizal fungus Cenococcum geophylum; (iii) the insect pathogenic fungus Metarhizium anisopliae; and (iv) forest soil. Inoculation with the ectomycorrhizal fungus Phialophora finlandia did not have any significant effect on larval survival. No significant synergistic effect was found between insect pathogenic and ectomycorrhizal fungi.

• It is concluded that ectomycorrhizal and insect pathogenic fungi have a significant potential in biological control of Otiorhynchus larvae in afforestation areas in Iceland. Further studies are needed to establish the effect of these fungi in the field and to analyse how mycorrhizal fungi affect root-feeding larvae.

Keywords: Afforestation; Betula pubescens; Cenococcum geophylum; Laccaria laccata; Metarhizium anisopliae; Otiorhynchus; Phialophora finlandia; ectomycorrhizal fungi; insect pathogenic fungi; suppressive soil

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2010-08-01

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