ABSTRACT Entomopathogenic fungi, such as Metarhizium anisopliae, are able to control various insect pests. These fungi attack the integument of the host using an enzymatic complex. Among the enzymes found in this complex, chitinase is an important component. However, the relation between the chitinase production and the virulence from different M. anisopliae strains has not been analyzed. In this manuscript it is presented the chitinase production by four M. anisopliae strains with different potential of virulence in Solid-State Fermentation using silkworm chrysalis as substrate. The higher chitinase level was obtained with the strain IBCB 360 (7.14 U/g of substrate) with potential virulence of 68% on Diatrea saccharalis. The enzyme production was optimized for all strains using a factorial planning (CCRD) considering the cultivation time and medium humidity as independent variables. The maximal production of chitinase was obtained at a range from 8 to 12-days old cultures and from 45% to 62% of moisture according to the surface response plot, with high R2 value. The enzyme production by the strain IBCB 167 was increased two-folds under optimized conditions, while for the strains IBCB 360 and 425 the chitinase production was increased four-folds and nine-folds for the strain IBCB 384.
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