This study focused on the effect of heavy metal cobalt ions (at concentrations of 1–1000 ppm) on the development and enzymatic activity of four entomopathogenic fungi: Beauveria bassiana, Beauveria brongniartii, Isaria fumosorosea and Metarhizium robertsii, commonly used in biological plant protection. It was found that each of the tested species of fungi reacted individually to contact with the Co2+ ions at their various concentrations. Depending on the variants of the experiment carried out, there were changes in the development of the mycelia (mainly growth inhibition) and their morphological features (color and structure) in comparison to the control samples. Co2+ ions had a fungistatic effect on all fungal strains, whereas a fungicidal effect was noted at concentrations of 750 ppm and 1000 ppm against M. robertsii and I. fumosorosea, respectively. In addition, there was a discrepancy in enzymatic activity between the tested fungal species developing in the medium with varying concentrations of metal salt. The inhibitory effect of Co2+ ions on lipase production was observed in I. fumosorosea. Protease production was stimulated in B. bassiana at all Co2+ concentrations, whereas in M. robertsii this effect was noted at 1 ppm. The changing dynamics of extracellular fungal hydrolases, due to the action of Co2+ ions, may translate into the role of these microorganisms in the processes of insect pathogenesis. This work suggests that severe pollution of the environment by cobalt could be a restrictive factor for the development and pathogenicity of entomopathogenic fungi and must be taken into account for their successful application in biological plant protection.
The authors have declared that no conflict of interests exist.
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