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Two isolates of nucleopolyhedroviruses (NPVs) from Kenya and South Africa were compared to Gemstar® (a commercial NPV) for their pathogenicity against the first four larval instars of Helicoverpa armigera (Hübner). The larvae were fed on droplets with the three virus products in concentrations of 0 (control), 6×102, 6×103, 6×104 and 6×105 occlusion bodies/μl. The bioassays showed that the median lethal dose (LD50) values of 23 and 631 occlusion bodies for the first and second instars, respectively, were comparable to those of Gemstar®. The LD50 values for the third and fourth instars were 3981 and 39,810 for the Kenyan isolate and 1288 and 25,119 for the South African isolate. There was a linear relationship between the log LD50, the larval age and the lethal time (LT50), which appeared to be dose dependent. This correlation constitutes a useful index for estimating susceptibility of larval populations. The LT50 increased from 2.8 to 11.9 days and 2.8 to 6.8 days, respectively, for the Kenyan and South African isolates, suggesting a slight increase of resistance with age within infected larvae.
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