During an infection locusts behaviourally fever by seeking out higher environmental temperatures. This behaviour places the pathogen at sub-optimal growth temperatures while improving the efficiency of the immune system, thereby prolonging the lifespan of the host. It is therefore in the interest of the pathogen to either adapt to fever-like temperatures or to evolve mechanisms to interfere with, or inhibit fever. We investigated the behavioural fever response of desert locusts to two fungal pathogens. A prolonged fever was observed in locusts infected with Metarhizium acridum. However, fever was comparatively short-lived during infection with Metarhizium robertsii. In both cases restriction of thermoregulation reduced lifespan. Destruxin A (dtx A) produced by M. robertsii, but not M. acridum has previously been associated with the inhibition of the insect immune system. Injection of dtx A during infection with the fever-causing M. acridum inhibited fever and was particularly effective when administered early on in infection. Furthermore, locusts injected with dtx A were more susceptible to M. acridum infection. Therefore engineering M. acridum isolates currently used for locust biocontrol, to express dtx A may improve efficiency of control by interfering with fever.
Hunt, V. L., & Charnley, A. K. (2011). The inhibitory effect of the fungal toxin, destruxin A, on behavioural fever in the desert locust. Journal of Insect Physiology, 57(10), 1341-1346. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jinsphys.2011.06.008