Open Access Open Badges Research

Storage and persistence of a candidate fungal biopesticide for use against adult malaria vectors

Simon Blanford12*, Nina E Jenkins2, Riann Christian34, Brian HK Chan12, Luisa Nardini34, Michael Osae3, Lizette Koekemoer34, Maureen Coetzee34, Andrew F Read125 and Matthew B Thomas4

Author Affiliations

1 Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics, Penn State University, Department of Biology, Mueller Laboratory, University Park, PA, 16802, USA

2 Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics, Department of Entomology, Penn State University, Merkle Lab, University Park, PA, 16802, USA

3 Vector Control Reference Unit, National Institute for Communicable Diseases of the NHLS, Private Bag X4, Sandringham, Johannesburg, 2131, South Africa

4 Malaria Entomology Research Unit, School of Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

5 Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, 20892, USA

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Malaria Journal 2012, 11:354  doi:10.1186/1475-2875-11-354

Published: 25 October 2012



New products aimed at augmenting or replacing chemical insecticides must have operational profiles that include both high efficacy in reducing vector numbers and/or blocking parasite transmission and be long lasting following application. Research aimed at developing fungal spores as a biopesticide for vector control have shown considerable potential yet have not been directly assessed for their viability after long-term storage or following application in the field.


Spores from a single production run of the entomopathogenic fungi Beauveria bassiana were dried and then stored under refrigeration at 7°C. After 585 days these spores were sub-sampled and placed at either 22°C, 26°C or 32°C still sealed in packaging (closed storage) or in open beakers and exposed to the 80% relative humidity of the incubator they were kept in. Samples were subsequently taken from these treatments over a further 165 days to assess viability. Spores from the same production run were also used to test their persistence following application to three different substrates, clay, cement and wood, using a hand held sprayer. The experiments were conducted at two different institutes with one using adult female Anopheles stephensi and the other adult female Anopheles gambiae. Mosquitoes were exposed to the treated substrates for one hour before being removed and their survival monitored for the next 14 days. Assays were performed at monthly intervals over a maximum seven months.


Spore storage under refrigeration resulted in no loss of spore viability over more than two years. Spore viability of those samples kept under open and closed storage was highly dependent on the incubation temperature with higher temperatures decreasing viability more rapidly than cooler temperatures. Mosquito survival following exposure was dependent on substrate type. Spore persistence on the clay substrate was greatest achieving 80% population reduction for four months against An. stephensi and for at least five months against Anopheles gambiae. Cement and wood substrates had more variable mortality with the highest spore persistence being two to three months for the two substrates respectively.


Spore shelf-life under refrigeration surpassed the standard two year shelf-life expected of a mosquito control product. Removal to a variety of temperatures under either closed or open storage indicated that samples sent out from refrigeration should be deployed rapidly in control operations to avoid loss of viability. Spore persistence following application onto clay surfaces was comparable to a number of chemical insecticides in common use. Persistence on cement and wood was shorter but in one assay still comparable to some organophosphate and pyrethroid insecticides. Optimized formulations could be expected to improve spore persistence still further.