An Assay for Hirsutella rhossiliensis Spores and the Importance of Phialides for Nematode Inoculation

T. M. McInnis, B. A. Jaffee


A spore assay was developed to measure the relative density of spores of the nematophagous fungus Hirsutella rhossiliensis in soil. Orchard soil containing H. rhossiliensis-parasitized CriconemeIla xenoplax was placed in vials and incubated for 0-120 days before the addition of probe nematodes, Heterorhabditis heliothidis juveniles. After 18 hours, H. heliothidis were extracted from the soil and examined for adhering spores of H. rhossiliensis. No spores were detected when H. heliothidis were added to freshly mixed soil, but the percentage of H. heliothidis with spores increased rapidly if soil was incubated undisturbed. Because mixing soil detaches spores from phialides, the results indicate that spores must be attached to phialides to adhere to nematodes. The spore assay was compared with a plate assay that measures the population density of H. rhossiliensis-parasitized C. xenoplax. Results from the two assays were highly correlated, suggesting that spores occur in three phases: reserves in nematodes that may be converted into spores; spores on phialides and therefore capable of adhering to nematodes; and spores detached from phialides and thus incapable of adhering to nematodes. Key words: biocontrol, Criconemella xenoplax, entomogenous, Heterorhabditis heliothidis, Hirsutella rhossiliensis, nematophagous, phialide, ring nematode.

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