Recommendations for Bio Assays

Bio-assays are too often done under optimal conditions for the pathogen, such as high dosages, high relative humidity, absence of UV light, optimal administering techniques (immersion, diet incorporation, direct deposition, forced feeding) to find the optimal strain. Also, target insects or mites are often kept under unnatural and stressful conditions which could lead to susceptible animals. This kind of bio-assay set-up is not discriminating enough and could lead to false positives. Bio-assays should therefore be done under conditions that mimic the natural situation as closely as possible, only then useful data can be generated. With abiotic factors this can be easily done, more care needs to be given to biotic conditions.

Standardization of the bio-assay is imperative in order to obtain reliable results. Natural variation in bio-assays is a complicating factor and can only be tackled by repeated testing with sufficient replicates and a tightly standardized assay (Robertson et al., 1995; Hatting and Wraight 2007). Attention should be paid to possible attenuation of the pathogen strain (depending on culturing method, storage, etc.), the culture of the target organism, even to the host plant on which tests are done. Even in well-conditioned climatic rooms seasonal effects are present and susceptibility and natural mortality may fluctuate throughout the seasons. This should be realized at all times when not only bio-assays but also semi-field tests are conducted.

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