Whitefly has assumed the status of a serious pest of cotton in north India in recent past due to its severe attack on cotton crop. The productivity of cotton crop has fallen substantially from 574 kg ha-1 of lint in the year 2014 -15 to 197 kg ha-1 in the year 2015-16 in Punjab. During extensive epidemiological surveillance of whitefly on cotton crop in the month of September 2016, mummified whiteflies with fungus were noticed on both abaxial and adaxial surfaces of leaves of the infested cotton plant at village, Mandi Khurd, Mansa District of Punjab, India and at Punjab Agricultural University, Regional Research Station, Bathinda, India. The fungus was isolated and purified from the mummified white fly and characterized at molecular level by sequencing 633 bp D2 region of Large Subunit (LSU) rRNA gene and identified as Penicillium oxalicum spg1. The gene sequence has been submitted to NCBI, USA with accession no. KY214238. The microscopic studies (stereo- and scanning electron) of the cotton leaves with mummified whitefly further strengthen the entomopathogenic potential of P. oxalicum spg1. There are few reports of entomopathogenic potential of P. oxalicum spg1 against other insects and pests. To our knowledge, this is the first report of isolation and identification of P. oxalicum spg1 from mummified white fly. Itâ€™s potential as a biocontrol agent against white fly can be exploited in a promising way with nominal interference with biological equilibrium.
Molecular characterization, P. oxalicum spg1, Surveillance, Whitefly
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