Laboratory assessment of red spider mites (Tetranychus evansi) damage on tomato plants enhanced with Beauveria bassiana
Tomato, (Solanum lycopersicum) is among the most widely cultivated vegetable crops in Kenya. Greenhouse and field production is greatly hampered by arthropod pests such as tomato red spider mite, Tetranychus evansi Baker & Pritchard. It is an important exotic pest in the production of tomatoes and other solanaceous plants in Africa. Beauveria bassiana has gained considerable attention as a biological control agent for agricultural pests. However, conventional delivery mechanism such as spraying for this fungus has limited its successful utilization. B. bassiana is not commonly reported as a natural endophyte but its use as an endophyte in controlling insect pests and plant diseases has been documented. This study seeks to evaluate plant damage by Red spider mites Tetranychus evansi on endophytic Beauveria bassiana ICIPE 35 in Cal J, Kilele and Anna F1 tomato varieties in greenhouse tomatoes in Kenya. Seeds were surface sterilized with 2% sodium hypochlorite,70% Ethanol , 3 rinses of sterile distilled water and soaked for 2hours in Beauveria bassiana isolate ICIPE 35 at a concentration of 1x 109 ,control seeds were soaked in sterile distilled water before planting in sterile soil in the screen house. Plant leaves were harvested after three weeks and placed in plastic containers with moist cotton wool. Adult red spider mites were then introduced and left to feed for a period of 72 hours, the experiment was laid out in a completely randomized design and replicated two times. At the end of the feeding period, the leaves were removed, and the percentage of plant damage was visually estimated based on Hussey and Scopes assessment of plant damage. There was a significant difference between the endophytic Cal J, Kilele and Anna F1 tomato varieties and respective control (P< 0.0001). The results demonstrate the potential of endophytic ICIPE 35 to reduce plant damage compared to the control plants.
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