Beauveria bassiana is an entomopathogenic fungus that attacks the exoskeleton of arthropods such as insects and caterpillars by producing mycotoxins called beauvericin and bassianolide. When these toxins enter the body of the host organism, they start to break down its cell membranes which leads to their death. The infection sometimes takes days or even weeks before symptoms are visible; however when it does occur it causes white muscardine disease which is characterized by progressive tissue damage leading to death.
The way Beauveria bassiana infects its host organisms depends on environmental factors like temperature and humidity. If conditions are ideal for the growth of the fungus then it will form structures called conidia which are dispersed through air currents and land on other organisms where they will germinate if conditions are favorable. Once attached, they germinate into hyphae which penetrate the exoskeleton of the host and enter their hemocoel (the insect equivalent of our circulatory system). Once inside the hemocoel, these fungal cells produce toxins which damage tissue or inhibit growth. As the infestation progresses, these toxins spread through other organs resulting white Muscardine disease and eventual death as vital bodily functions stop working properly.
In addition to producing toxins, B. bassiana also produces enzymes that break down things like proteins and lipids within their infected hosts. This allows them access to nutrients that would otherwise be inaccessible due to the exoskeleton barrier surrounding the host’s body. In fact, this process of utilizing external resources for energy production is known as saprobic nutrition – making B. bassiana an example of a saprophytic organism. However Beauveria bassiana is also an insect parasite and a plant mutualist. As a plant mutualist Beauveria bassiana establishes associations with plants by growing as an endophyte (lives within the plant) without inducing damage to the plant, usually in exchange for carbon. Beauveria bassiana benefits its host by protecting them from insect pests, either through direct parasitism, through the production of toxins or VOCs volatile organic compounds, that deter pests or attract beneficial predators.
As a generalist insect parasite beauveria bassiana can switch from a biotroph (living on a living host) to necrotrophic (living off of dead organisms)
In studying Beauveria bassiana infections, researchers have found that some strains are more virulent than others when attacking certain species while some strains have a wider host range and are considered nonselective biological insecticides. Research has demonstrated that different strains vary greatly in their ability to cause mortality across different hosts but all strains cause mortality within 24 hours after invasion into a susceptible host organism.
Additionally, research suggests that some strains of Beauveria bassiana are systemic and can induce resistance in plants making them less vulnerable to further attack from other pathogens. Beauveria bassiana is an ideal choice for pest control purposes since it not only kills existing insects but also offers protection from future infections by providing immunity against content from future exposures from similar pests and diseases caused by other species of fungi or insects .
Overall Beauveria bassiana is considered safe for use on food crops where it can be used effectively without posing any danger to humans while still achieving high levels of efficacy against targeted pests such as termites or bed bugs making it an excellent choice for pest control applications.