In several insect systems, fungal entomopathogens synergize with neonicotinoid insecticides which results in accelerated host death. Using the Asian longhorned beetle, Anoplophora glabripennis (Motschulsky), an invasive woodborer inadvertently introduced into North America and Europe, we investigated potential mechanisms in the synergy between the entomopathogenic fungus Metarhizium brunneum Petch and the insecticide imidacloprid. A potential mechanism underlying this synergy could be imidacloprid's ability to prevent feeding shortly after administration. We investigated whether starvation would have an impact similar to imidacloprid exposure on the mortality of fungal-inoculated beetles. Using real-time PCR to quantify fungal load in inoculated beetles, we determined how starvation and pesticide exposure impacted beetles' ability to tolerate or resist a fungal infection. The effect of starvation and pesticide exposure on the encapsulation and melanization immune responses of the beetles was also quantified. Starvation had a similar impact on the survival of M. brunneum-inoculated beetles compared to imidacloprid exposure. The synergy, however, was not completely due to starvation, as imidacloprid reduced the beetles' melanotic encapsulation response and capsule area, while starvation did not significantly reduce these immune responses. Our results suggest that there are multiple interacting mechanisms involved in the synergy between M. brunneum and imidacloprid.
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Vol. 110 • No. 4