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  If we were going to talk about the future of biocontrol
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post #99
bio: eve
perma-link
4/6/2006
20:37

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What we are talking about here is the potential for Long Term Non-Chemical Bio-Suppression of a Pest Species. What we are using are three (3) pathotypes of a fungus with a very complex life cycle. The spores reside in soil or on leaf surfaces waiting for the golden ring of opportunity in the form of the grasshopper. [Order: Insecta (Hexapoda). Family: Orthoptera. Genus: Acrididae.]
What happens next is disturbing.

What happens next:
A grasshopper (Melanoplus devastator, for instance) is foraging for succulent plant parts to ingest via their chewing mouthparts. This grasshopper brushes against a leaf, knocking loose some spores of the fungus Entomophaga grylli. These spores land on the now doomed M. devastator. Spores send out hyphae (long filaments) that exploit openings in the grasshopper exoskeleton (mouth, anus, around the joints) getting inside the body of what is now the Host. The fungus now produces in massive quantities a certain kind of cell that is able to elude the Host immune system because, possibly, of it's physical structure.
Now the fungus begins to dissolve the Host from the inside out, starting with nonessential organs and systems (think reproduction, digestion).

Very Important Point: The fungus maintains control of the locomotive abilities of the Host. The fungus is in charge.

When the Host is near death, the fungus "drives" the Host to the tip of a stalk of grass or other highly visible site where the fungus directs that the legs be tightly wrapped and the head facing upward. This behavior is contrary to the Host's natural behavior.
This is where the Host dies.
After several days, the empty husk will fall prey to the elements and be dispersed, releasing a large quantity of spores.

The process begins anew.




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