Identification and characterization of three microsporidian genera concurrently infecting a silkworm, Bombyx mori, in Brazil

Maximiano Corrêa Cassal, Airi Fukushima, Oumi Nishi, Kazuhiro Iiyama, Lidia Mariana Fiuza, Chisa Yasunaga-Aoki

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Microsporidia are important entomopathogens known for infecting insects such as the silkworm (Bombyx mori) thus impairing global silk production. This study aimed to identify and characterize the microsporidia isolated from a diseased larva of silkworm, collected from a sericulture farm in southern Brazil. Identification was performed by phylogenetic analysis of the nucleotide sequences of the SSU rRNA genes. Characterization was performed by analyzing spore sizes, tissue tropism, internal and external symptoms, and pathogenicity against B. mori. Microsporidia belonging to three different genera were identified, namely, Endoreticulatus, Nosema and Tubulinosema. After inoculation of the mixed spores of the microsporidian isolates into B. mori larvae, a high prevalence of Tubulinosema spp. was observed. This isolate showed high prevalence on the silk glands and a late mortality, initially of around 10% until the 20th day post-inoculation but reaching 91.5% upon pupation. Therefore, we demonstrated that Tubulinosema spp. causes chronic infection with slow pathogenicity. We identified for the first time three different microsporidians concurrently infecting B. mori in Brazil. Tubulinosema is of particular interest because of its potential threat to silk production; it affects the formation of silk glands in B. mori while not presenting distinguishable external symptoms or causing the immediate death of these insects. Further studies focusing on this species, mainly regarding its life cycle within the host and the sublethal effects of surviving individuals, demonstrate the importance of describing it as a new species and improving the characterization of the disease in order to prevent its spread.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107502
JournalJournal of Invertebrate Pathology
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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