Serotonin Regulates the Feeding and Reproductive Behaviors of Pratylenchus penetrans.

PMID 28398877


The success of all plant-parasitic nematodes is dependent on the completion of several complex behaviors. The lesion nematode Pratylenchus penetrans is an economically important parasite of a diverse range of plant hosts. Unlike the cyst and root-knot nematodes, P. penetrans moves both within and outside of the host roots and can feed from both locations. Adult females of P. penetrans require insemination by actively moving males for reproduction and can lay eggs both within and outside of the host roots. We do not have a complete understanding of the molecular basis for these behaviors. One candidate modulator of these behaviors is the neurotransmitter serotonin. Previous research demonstrated an effect of exogenously applied serotonin on the feeding and male mating behaviors of cyst and root-knot nematodes. However, there are no data on the role of exogenous serotonin on lesion nematodes. Similarly, there are no data on the presence and function of endogenous serotonin in any plant-parasitic nematode. Here, we establish that exogenous serotonin applied to P. penetrans regulates both feeding and sex-specific behaviors. Furthermore, using immunohistochemistry and pharmacological assays, our data suggest that P. penetrans utilizes endogenous serotonin to regulate both feeding and sex-specific behaviors.