A Realistic Appraisal of Methods to Enhance Desiccation Tolerance of Entomopathogenic Nematodes

Roland N. Perry, Ralf-Udo Ehlers, Itamar Glazer


Understanding the desiccation survival attributes of infective juveniles of entomopathogenic nematodes (EPN) of the genera Steinernema and Heterorhabditis, is central to evaluating the reality of enhancing the shelf-life and field persistence of commercial formulations. Early work on the structural and physiological aspects of desiccation survival focused on the role of the molted cuticle in controlling the rate of water loss and the importance of energy reserves, particularly neutral lipids. The accumulation of trehalose was also found to enhance desiccation survival. Isolation of natural populations that can survive harsh environments, such as deserts, indicated that some populations have enhanced abilities to survive desiccation. However, survival abilities of EPN are limited compared with those of some species of plant-parasitic nematodes inhabiting aerial parts of plants. Research on EPN stress tolerance has expanded on two main lines: i) to select strains of species, currently in use commercially, which have increased tolerance to environmental extremes; and ii) to utilize molecular information, including expressed sequence tags and genome sequence data, to determine the underlying genetic factors that control longevity and stress tolerance of EPN. However, given the inherent limitations of EPN survival ability, it is likely that improved formulation will be the major factor to enhance EPN longevity and, perhaps, increase the range of applications.

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