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Fluorescence of Diseased Yellow Mealworm

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While we were rearing the yellow mealworm, Tenebrio molitor L., at the Beltsville laboratory for use as an indicator insect in studies of juvenile hormones, we noted that about 10% of the prepupae were dying. When these presumably diseased insects were examined under 365-nm radiation in a dark room, about 30% were found to fluoresce a strong greenish-yellow. A similar fluorescence was observed when extracts of the diseased fluorescent insects were plated on Trypticase™ Soy Agar plates. Pfeiffer and Stammer (1930) observed a similar phenomenon in yellow mealworms and named the causative bacterium Bacterium hemophosphoreum (since reclassified as Brucella hemophosphoreum (Pribram 1933). Seleen and Stark (1943) reported some type characteristics of over 199 green-fluorescent pigment-producing bacteria, one of which, Pseudomonas fiuorescens Migula, was characterized in detail by Rhodes (1959). We have attempted to isolate the strongly fluorescent product produced in the yellow mealworm, without proof that we in fact had the same organism as earlier reported. Brucella hemophosphoreum is not available through the American Type Culture Collection.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 15, 1970

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  • Journal of Economic Entomology is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December. The journal publishes articles on the economic significance of insects and is divided into the following sections: apiculture & social insects; arthropods in relation to plant disease; forum; insecticide resistance and resistance management; ecotoxicology; biological and microbial control; ecology and behavior; sampling and biostatistics; household and structural insects; medical entomology; molecular entomology; veterinary entomology; forest entomology; horticultural entomology; field and forage crops, and small grains; stored-product; commodity treatment and quarantine entomology; and plant resistance. In addition to research papers, Journal of Economic Entomology publishes Letters to the Editor, interpretive articles in a Forum section, Short Communications, Rapid Communications, and Book Reviews.
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