Lagenidium giganteum is a facultative parasite of mosquito larvae that initiates infection by production of biflagellate zoospores that selectively recognize and attach to larval cuticle. Following penetration of the cuticle, the parasite proliferates within the host, killing it within 24–60 h. Under optimum conditions the mycelia differentiate to produce asexual and/or sexual reproductive structures that produce zoospores within hours (asexual stage) to amplify the initial infection, or remain dormant for days, months or years (sexual stage), until conditions are conducive to mosquito breeding and spore germination. Recycling following a single application has been documented for up to 8–10 years. Environmental conditions that reduce or eliminate zoospore production, including temperature extremes (less than 16°C or greater than 32°C) and moderate levels of salinity and organic load, preclude use of the parasite for operational mosquito control. Three formulations of L. giganteum have been registered with the USEPA. Widespread use of the parasite will be possible when yields of the sexual stage in liquid culture are increased by a factor of ca. 102.
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Vol. 23 • No. sp2