Morphological and molecular identification of the local entomopathogenic fungus Purpureocillium lilacinum and its virulence against the super worm Zophobas morio 

Entomopathogenic fungi (EPF) are employed as a viable substitute for chemical insecticides and have been identified as effective biocontrol agents for reducing the density of insect pest populations. In this investigation, a local entomopathogenic fungus (EPF), Purpureocillium lilacinum, was obtained from soil through the utilization of the insect-baiting method. The identification of this fungus was accomplished by analyzing its morphology and molecular traits. Furthermore, the study involved evaluating the ability of this fungus to cause disease in a coleopteran insect species known as Zophobas morio.  The study reports the morphology and molecular characterization of Purpureocillium lilacinum isolate CBBS3.12, revealing its similarity to other P. lilacinum strains isolated from different countries. The pathogenicity of P. lilacinum CBBS3.12 against Zophobas morio was also investigated, showing that different concentrations of the fungus had a significant effect on insect mortality, with the highest mortality observed at 6.0 x 108 spores mL-1 at 6 and 12 days post-infection. The research emphasizes the promising capabilities of P. lilacinum CBBS3.12 as a biocontrol organism targeting Z. morio. This warrants a further assessment for its possible virulence to various kinds of economically important agricultural pests.