Characterization of New Entomopathogenic Nematodes from Thailand: Foraging Behavior and Virulence to the Greater Wax Moth, Galleria mellonella L. (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae)

Atirach Noosidum, Amanda K. Hodson, Edwin E. Lewis, Angsumarn Chandrapatya


Entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs) in the genera Steinernema and Heterorhabditis and their associated bacteria (Xenorhabdus spp. and Photorhabdus spp., respectively) are lethal parasites of soil dwelling insects. We collected 168 soil samples from five provinces, all located in southern Thailand. Eight strains of EPNs were isolated and identified to species using restriction profiles and sequence analysis. Five of the isolates were identified as Heterorhabditis indica, and one as Heterorhabditis baujardi. Two undescribed Steinernema spp. were also discovered which matched no published sequences and grouped separately from the other DNA restriction profiles. Behavioral tests showed that all Heterorhabditis spp. were cruise foragers, based on their attraction to volatile cues and lack of body-waving and standing behaviors, while the Steinernema isolates were more intermediate in foraging behavior. The infectivity of Thai EPN strains against Galleria mellonella larvae was investigated using sand column bioassays and the LC50 was calculated based on exposures to nematodes in 24-well plates. The LC50 results ranged from 1.99-6.95 IJs/insect. Nine centimeter columns of either sandy loam or sandy clay loam were used to determine the nematodes’ ability to locate and infect subterranean insects in different soil types. The undescribed Steinernema sp. had the greatest infection rate in both soil types compared to the other Thai isolates and three commercial EPNs (Heterorhabditis bacteriophora, Steinernema glaseri and Steinernema riobrave).

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