The entomopathogenic fungi (EPF) are characterized as fungi with various functions and numerous mechanisms of action. The ability to establish themselves as beneficial endo- phytes provides a sound ground for their exploitation in crop production and protection. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the entomopathogenic strains of Beauveria bas­ siana and Mertarhizium anisopliae for their potential to colonize cucumber plants under natural environmental conditions in non-sterile substrate. Seed submersion in conidial suspension resulted in systemic colonization of cucumber plants 28 days post-inoculation. Scanning electron microscope micrographs demonstrated that conidia of both fungal gen- era have adhered, germinated and directly penetrated seed epidermal cells 24 hr post-sub- mersion. Treated with EPF cucumber seeds resulted seedlings tissues of which contained a significantly higher amount of total phenolic compounds and unchanged amounts of chlorophylls. There was a significant negative effect of endophytic colonization on the Aphis gossypii population size after 5 days of exposure as well as a positive effect on cucumber growth and development 7 weeks post-inoculation. We suggest that reduction of A. gossypii population on mature Cucumis sativus plants is caused via an endophyte-triggered improve- ment of plant’s physiological parameters such as enhanced plant growth with subsequent increase in plant resistance through augmented production of phenolic compounds.
The authors wish to thank the National Council for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the Lebanese Univer- sity for funding this study. We also appreciate the as- sistance of the plant protection team at the Lebanese Agricultural Institute (LARI), including Eng. C. Saab and Z. Moussa. We also wish to thank Dr. R. Habchi (Research Platform for Nanoscience and Nanotech- nology, Fanar Campus 90656, Lebanese University) for helping with SEM work.
Natasza Borodynko-Filas
The authors have declared that no conflict of interests exist.
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