Effect of insect host age and diet on the fitness of the entomopathogenic nematode-bacteria mutualism

Victoria A. Miranda, Patricia D. Navarro, Goggy Davidowitz, Judith Bronstein, S. Patricia Stock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


Insect host age and diet were evaluated as potential factors that could affect the fitness of the entomopathogenic nematode-bacterium mutualistic partnership. Two nematode species were considered: Steinernema carpocapsae and Heterorhabditis sonorensis, together with their symbionts Xenorhabdus nematophila and Photorhabdus luminescens, respectively. The tobacco hornworm, Manduca sexta, was used as the insect host. Insect developmental stage was a factor that impacted nematode virulence. Non-wandering 5th instar M. sexta were found to be more susceptible to nematode infection compared to wandering 5th instars. This was more noticeable for S. carpocapsae than for H. sonorensis. The nutritional status of the host also had an effect on the fitness of the two nematode species tested. In general, insects fed with the reduced diet content were less susceptible to nematode parasitism. The least observed mortality (0.5 %) was in those M. sexta larvae exposed to the low H. sonorensis dose. Host diet also had an effect on the production of IJ progeny in the insect cadavers. For both nematode species tested, the highest yield of emerging IJs was observed from those insect hosts fed with the low nutrient diet and exposed to the highest nematode inoculum. However, for both nematode species tested, the nutritional status of the host did not significantly affect time of emergence of IJ progeny or the reassociation with their bacterial symbionts (expressed as cfu/IJ). This is the first study on the effect of insect host physiology on both EPN and their symbiotic bacteria fitness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-153
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1 2013



  • Heterorhabditis sonorensis
  • Host age
  • Host diet
  • Manduca sexta
  • Photorhabdus luminescens
  • Steinernema carpocapsae
  • Xenorhabdus nematophila

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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