Biocontrol Potential of Steinernema thermophilum and Its Symbiont Xenorhabdus indica Against Lepidopteran Pests: Virulence to Egg and Larval Stages

Vinay Kalia, Garima Sharma, David I. Shapiro-Ilan, Sudershan Ganguly


Under laboratory conditions, the biocontrol potential of Steinernema thermophilum was tested against eggs and larval stages of two important lepidopteran insect pests, Helicoverpa armigera and Spodoptera litura (polyphagous pests), as well as Galleria mellonella (used as a model host). In terms of host susceptibility of lepidopteran larvae to S. thermophilum, based on the LC50 36 hr after treatment, G. mellonella (LC50 = 16.28 IJ/larva) was found to be more susceptible than S. litura (LC50 = 85 IJ/larva), whereas neither host was found to be significantly different from H. armigera (LC50 = 54.68 IJ/larva). In addition to virulence to the larval stages, ovicidal activity up to 84% was observed at 200 IJ/50 and 100 eggs of H. armigera and S. litura, respectively. To our knowledge this is the first report of entomopathogenic nematode pathogenicity to lepidopteran eggs. Production of infective juvenile (IJ) nematodes/insect larva was also measured and found to be positively correlated with rate of IJ for H. armigera (r = 0.990), S. litura (r = 0.892), as well as G. mellonella (r = 0.834). Both Phase I and Phase II of symbiotic bacteria Xenorhabdus indica were tested separately against neonates of H. armigera and S. litura by feeding assays and found to be virulent to the target pests; phase variation did not affect the level of virulence. Thus S. thermophilum as well as the nematode’s symbiotic bacteria applied separately have the potential to be developed as biocontrol agents for key lepidopteran pests.

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