Melanoplus grasshopper killed by Beauveria bassiana

Insect Pathology

June 7-11, 2010, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois
In partnership with the Midwest Institute for Biological Control

Leellen Solter, Illinois Natural History Survey, University of Illinois, IL
Lawrence Lacey, USDA-ARS, Yakima, WA
Richard Humber, USDA-ARS, Ithaca, NY

Insect pathogens are vitally important natural regulators of insect populations and are a cornerstone group of organisms for use in biological control of pest species. Some species of pathogens can, however, also cause serious problems for management of beneficial insects including pollinators and mass-reared biological control agents.  The focus of our Insect Pathology Short Course, attended by graduate students from six universities and postdoctoral and staff researchers from USDA, universities and industry, was to provide basic skills in identification of the major pathogen groups,knowledge about the importance and use of pathogens in forestry and agricultural settings, and mitigation of disease in beneficial insects.

Introduction to Insect Pathology (Solter)
Course participants were provided a brief history of the discipline of invertebrate pathology and introduced to the major pathogen groups, important terminology, general characteristics of pathogen invasion and infection, insect immune response, and epizootiology of infectious disease. 

2010 Insect Pathology Short Course Students in LabCourse content
Morphological characteristics, pathogenesis and epizootiology of important pathogen species in each major taxonomic group were described in a lecture-style format, along with examples of use in biological control programs and disease mitigation methods.  In the laboratory, participants learned to identify the pathogen groups by observing the gross pathology of infected insects and to use phase contrast microscopy to observe the isolated pathogens.  Laboratory techniques for studying and archiving pathogens were demonstrated and hands-on training provided.

Bacteria (Lacey)
Fungi (Humber)
Microsporidia and Protozoa (Solter)
Viruses (Solter)
Nematodes (Lacey)

Looking for aquatic invertebratesCollecting and Evaluation (Humber, Lacey, Solter)
A collecting trip to an Illinois prairie restoration and riparian woodland site yielded insects for laboratory evaluation. Instruction was given on the proper handling, storage and transportation of insects to protect the pathogens they harbor for future study.  Participants dissected the collected insects in the laboratory and identified pathogens and commensal microbes.

Microbial Control and Disease Mitigation (Humber, Lacey, Solter)
In a final round-table discussion, participants and instructors shared their own experiences with insect pathogens in biological control programs and as problematic issues in their research, and exchanged ideas for future research and mitigation efforts.