Author

Daeja Gomez

Date of Award

2023

First Advisor

Jesse Robbins

Second Advisor

Sarah Snyder

Abstract

This thesis examines the importance of fungi as insecticides, parasites, spiritual tools, medicines, and food in several cultures throughout the world. The development of these fungal relationships and the implications these relationships have on various cultures, economies, and lifestyles will be explored. From the Americas to Asia, the versatility of the fungal kingdom is impressive. Examining both the beneficial and detrimental effects of fungi provides insight into species of fungi: the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana is used to kill honeybee pests, while the phytopathogenic fungus Ustilago maydis infects corn crops and can reduce the yield yet is prepared and eaten in a variety of meals. To explore the effect entomopathogenic fungi could have on controlling a common honeybee (Apis mellifera) pest, Galleria mellonella larvae were inoculated with Beauveria bassiana and Metarhizium robertsii isolates. On average, 42% of the larvae died after being inoculated with fungi and a greater mortality rate of up to 70% was noted in larvae treated with B. bassiana in high humidity and temperature environments. The inability for the two fungi to infect or seriously harm the honeybee makes these fungi viable options to treat the common yet detrimental honeybee pest.

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