Open Access

Evaluation of The Pathogenic Potential of Insecticidal Serratia marcescens Strains to Humans


We observed the death of insect caterpillars of Spodoptera exigua in the laboratory culture line and identified Serratia marcescens as the bacterial causative agent of the insect death. We confirmed that S. marcescens had insecticidal activity against S. exigua and caused high mortality of larvae. The LC50 values of S. marcescens CFU per 1 cm2 of insect diet surface were similar for all isolates. Our research reports novel strains with high pesticidal activity as candidates for future research on a new bioinsecticide. As bioinsecticides cannot be harmful to non-target organisms, we determined the pathogenic properties of S. marcescens to humans. We proved the ability of S. marcescens to damage mammalian epithelial cells. All strains had cytopathic effects to Vero cells with a cytotoxic index ranging from 51.2% ± 3.8% to 79.2% ± 4.1%. We found that all of the strains excreted catecholate siderophore – enterobactin. All isolates were resistant to sulfamethoxazole, tobramycin, gentamicin, cefepime, and aztreonam. We did not observe the ESBL phenotype and the integrons’ integrase genes. Resistance to sulfamethoxazole was due to the presence of the sul1 or sul2 gene. The use of resistant S. marcescens strains that are pathogenic to humans in plant protection may cause infections difficult to cure and lead to the spread of resistance genes. The results of our study emphasize the necessity of determination of the safety to vertebrates of the bacteria that are proposed to serve as biocontrol agents. The novelty of our study lies in the demonstration of the indispensability of the bacteria verification towards the lack of hazardous properties to humans.

Publication timeframe:
4 times per year
Journal Subjects:
Life Sciences, Microbiology and Virology