We used a phylogenetic framework to examine the relationship between entomopathogenic nematode (EPN) vertical dispersal and infectivity when EPNs are exposed to a mixture of compounds found in late-stage EPN-infected insect cadavers. EPNs from five phylogenetically close and distant species (Heterorhabditis bacteriophora, H. georgiana, H. megidis, H. indica and Steinernema feltiae) were exposed to cadaver macerate produced by their own species’ infection and by H. bacteriophora infected hosts. We found that only three of the five species (H. bacteriophora, H. indica and S. feltiae) responded to exposure to their own macerate by increasing rates of dispersal. When we exposed all five species to a H. bacteriophora infected host macerate, we found that only H. bacteriophora responded by increasing dispersal, and that the most distantly related species (S. feltiae) essentially halted dispersal. These findings suggest that (1) responses to cadaver macerate vary, and (2) there may be a relationship between inherent dispersal rates and sensitivity to macerate exposure, as the most rapidly dispersing species (H. megidis) showed no response to macerate exposure.

Publication timeframe:
Volume Open
Journal Subjects:
Life Sciences, other