The use of a recombinant baculovirus expressing a chitinase from the hard tick Haemaphysalis longicornis and its potential application as a bioacaricide for tick control
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Baculoviruses are specific insect pathogens used as selective biological insecticides on lepidopteran insects. We have tested a recombinant baculovirus expressing a chitinase gene for its efficacy as a tick bioacaricide. The recombinant Autographa californica multiple nuclear polyhedrosis virus expressing a chitinase enzyme (AcMNPV-CHT1) from the hard tick, Haemaphysalis longicornis, was constructed and found to have a novel bioacaricidal effect against ticks. The recombinant baculovirus was used to express the chitinase enzyme in Spodoptera frugiperda (Sf9) insect cells. Topical application of the supernatant harvested from the insect cell culture was found to cause mortality in nymphal ticks of H. longicornis. High temperature (>30 degrees C) and infrared radiation affected the chitinase enzyme activity and recombinant baculovirus infectivity by reducing the speed of tick killing by 60%. A mixture of recombinant virus and chitinase was found to kill ticks faster (p < 0.01) than pure chitinase and recombinant virus alone. Thus, the recombinant virus showed a synergistic effect with the foreign chitinase gene. In order to reduce the excessive use and cost of acaricides, it was found that a mixture of recombinant virus and flumethrin could halve the dose of the chemical acaricide used. These findings are important for the safe use of the recombinant virus expressing chitinase as a bioacaricide against ticks.