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The most prevalent vector of Lyme disease in the United States is the Eastern black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis). Lyme disease, although usually not fatal, can lead to many serious complications including arthritis and neurological disorders if untreated. Many other diseases have emerged as well including Human Granulocytic Anaplasmosis (HGA), Babesiosis, and Ehrlichiosis, some of which are more serious than Lyme disease. One of the newest biological controls being used to try and control I. scapularis is the entomopathogenic fungus Metarhizium anisopliae. This fungus occurs naturally in the soil and has been effectively tested against ticks including: Rhipicephalus appendiculatus, Ixodes ricinus, and I. scapularis. A new strain of M. anisopliae was recently produced by Novozymes Inc. called Met52® EC which has been experimentally proven to target the black-legged tick as well as thrips, whiteflies, mites, and weevil larvae. If this new strain of fungus can be spread throughout patches of forest in areas of high prevalence of I. scapularis then the spread of Lyme disease can be reduced significantly in these regions. However, before that can take place it is important to make sure there are no adverse effects to beneficial arthropods in the area.
This experiment aims to test whether or not beneficial arthropods are harmed by Met52 EC solution, as well as the granular form of the fungus as a control. The arthropods tested in this study include: wolf spiders (Lycosidae), cellar spiders (Pholcidae), harvestmen (Opiliones), waxworms (Pyralidae), lady beetles (Coccinellidae), ants (Formicidae) and crickets (Gryllidae). These organisms will cover five major Orders of arthropods: Araneae, Lepidoptera, Coleoptera, Hymenoptera, and Orthoptera. If it can be determined that Met52 EC has no effect on these arthropods, then it can tested in the field and then potentially be used over a more widespread range to start eliminating Lyme disease risk in many areas.
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Flonc, Brianna, "Non-Target Effects of Metarhizium anisopliae Strain Met52 on Beneficial Arthropods" (2015). Senior Projects Spring 2015. 207.
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