Efficacy of local Bacillus thuringiensis isolates against tomato leaf miner (Tuta absoluta) larvae on tomato plants under screenhouse conditions

E.O. Akinyelure*, D.A. Machido, H.I. Atta

Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Life Sciences, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria

(Manuscript received 23 April 2021; accepted for publication 25 October 2021)

Abstract. The negative impact of chemical pesticides on the environment and the increased resistance of tomato leafminer (Tuta absoluta) field populations to chemical pesticides have promoted research on alternative control measures. Biological control with Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) may be an alternative, especially against larval instars of T. absoluta. A total of five B. thuringiensis strains were isolated from soil sampled from two different Cow range lands in Zaria, Nigeria; and they were screened for the presence of the cry1 genes using polymerase chain reaction. Of the five isolates, two (40%) showed the presence of the cry1 genes. Results of the bioassay conducted against 2nd instar larvae of T. absoluta at 28±2°C indicated that each of the concentrations (25, 50, 75 and 100 ppm) of the spore crystal mixtures derived from the isolates harbouring cry1 genes caused significant mortality to larvae of T. absoluta after 72 hours in comparison to the control (0 ppm). Probit analysis was used to determine the LC50 and LT50 values. When the treatments were assessed at 48 and 72 hours, LC50 values against larvae were 74.1 and 25.3 ppm for isolate F3, while the LT50 values of that same isolate F3 at 100 ppm and 75 ppm were 36.3 and 42.7 hours, respectively. B. thuringiensis strain F2 achieved 68.7% reduction in T. absoluta damage on tomato plants, while B. thuringiensis isolate F3 achieved 71.3% reduction. Therefore, the spore crystal mixture derived from indigenous Bt strains is the candidate to be used for foliar application against T. absoluta and it is recommended into integrated pest control strategies for the management of T. absoluta.