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“Sleepers” and “Creepers”: A Theoretical Study of Colony Polymorphisms in the Fungus Metarhizium Related to Insect Pathogenicity and Plant Rhizosphere Colonization

Department of Biological Sciences, Brock University, St. Catharines, ON L2S 3A1, Canada
Division of Natural and Exact Sciences, Department of Biology, University of Guanajuato, Campus Guanajuato, Guanajuato CP 36050, Mexico
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Insects 2018, 9(3), 104;
Received: 1 August 2018 / Revised: 13 August 2018 / Accepted: 14 August 2018 / Published: 17 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanisms Underlying Transmission of Insect Pathogens)
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Different strains of Metarhizium exhibit a range of polymorphisms in colony phenotypes. These phenotypes range from highly conidiating colonies to colonies that produce relatively more mycelia and few conidia. These different phenotypes are exhibited in infected insects in the soil. In this paper, we provide a theoretical consideration of colony polymorphisms and suggest that these phenotypes represent a range of strategies in the soil that Metarhizium exhibits. We call these different strategies “sleepers” and “creepers”. The “sleeper” phenotype produces relatively greater amounts of conidia. We use the term “sleeper” to identify this phenotype since this strategy is to remain in the soil as conidia in a relatively metabolically inactive state until a host insect or plant encounter these conidia. The “creeper” phenotype is predominantly a mycelial phenotype. In this strategy, hyphae move through the soil until a host insect or plant is encountered. We theoretically model the costs and benefits of these phenotypic polymorphisms and suggest how evolution could possibly select for these different strategies. View Full-Text
Keywords: Metarhizium; colony morphology; reproductive strategies Metarhizium; colony morphology; reproductive strategies

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Angelone, S.; Piña-Torres, I.H.; Padilla-Guerrero, I.E.; Bidochka, M.J. “Sleepers” and “Creepers”: A Theoretical Study of Colony Polymorphisms in the Fungus Metarhizium Related to Insect Pathogenicity and Plant Rhizosphere Colonization. Insects 2018, 9, 104.

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