A constitutively expressed antifungal peptide protectsTenebrio molitorduring a natural infection by the entomopathogenic fungusBeauveria bassiana

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Antimicrobial peptides have been well studied in the context of bacterial infections. Antifungal peptides have received comparatively less attention. Fungal pathogens of insects and their hosts represent a unique opportunity to study host-pathogen interactions due to the million of years of co-evolution they share. In this study, we investigated role of a constitutively expressed thaumatin-like peptide with antifungal activity expressed by the mealworm beetle Tenebrio molitor, named Tenecin 3, during a natural infection with the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana. We monitored the effect of the expression of Tenecin 3 on the survival of infected hosts as well as on the progression of the fungal infection inside the host. Finally, we tested the activity of Tenecin 3 against B. bassiana. These findings could help improving biocontrol strategies and help understanding the evolution of antifungal peptides as a defense mechanism.

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