Experimental parasitology

An investigation on the chemotactic responses of different entomopathogenic nematode strains to mechanically damaged maize root volatile compounds.

PMID 23562713


Entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs) respond to a variety of stimuli when foraging. In a laboratory investigation, we tested the chemotactic responses of 8 EPN strains (Steinernema and Heterorhabditis) to three mechanically damaged maize root compounds (linalool, α-caryophyllene and β-caryophyllene). We hypothesized that the EPN directional response to the tested volatile compounds would vary among the species and volatile compound and may be related to foraging strategies. The nematodes with an intermediate foraging strategy (Steinernema feltiae) proved to be less active in their movement toward volatile compounds in a comparison with the ambushers (Steinernema carpocapsae) and cruisers (Steinernema kraussei and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora); β-caryophyllene was found to be the most attractive substance in our experiment. The results of our investigation showed that the cruisers were more attracted to β-caryophyllene than the ambushers and intermediates. The foraging strategy did not affect the movement of the IJs toward the other tested volatile compounds or the control. Our results suggest that the response to different volatile cues is more a strain-specific characteristic than a different host-searching strategy. Only S. carpocapsae strain B49 displayed an attraction to linalool, whereas S. kraussei showed a retarded reaction to β-caryophyllene and α-caryophyllene in our experiment. The EPN strains showed only a weak attraction to α-caryophyllene, suggesting that this volatile compound could not have an important role in the orientation of IJs to the damaged roots of maize plants. These results expand our knowledge of volatile compounds as the cues that may be used by EPNs for finding hosts or other aspects of navigation in the soil.