Entomopathogenic nematodes have been classified into cruisers (active searchers) and ambushers (sit and wait foragers). However, little is known about their dispersal and foraging behavior at population level in soil. We studied lateral dispersal of the ambush foraging Steinernema carpocapsae (ALL strain) and cruise foraging Heterorhabditis bacteriophora (GPS11 strain) from infected host cadavers in microcosms (0.05 m2) containing Wooster silt-loam soil (Oxyaquic fragiudalf) and vegetation in the presence or absence of non-mobile and mobile hosts. Results showed that the presence of a non-mobile host (Galleria mellonella larva in a wire mesh cage) enhanced H. bacteriophora dispersal for up to 24 hr compared with no-host treatment, but had no impact on S. carpocapsae dispersal. In contrast, presence of a mobile host (G. mellonella larvae) increased dispersal of S. carpocapsae compared with no host treatment, but had no effect on H. bacteriophora dispersal. Also H. bacteriophora was better at infecting non-mobile than mobile hosts released into the microcosms and S. carpocapsae was better at infecting mobile than non-mobile hosts, thus affirming the established cruiser-ambusher theory. However, results also revealed that a large proportion of infective juveniles (IJs) of both species stayed near (≤ 3.8 cm) the source cadaver (88-96% S. carpocapsae; 67–79% H. bacteriophora), and the proportion of IJs reaching the farthest distance (11.4 cm) was significantly higher for S. carpocapsae (1.4%) than H. bacteriophora (0.4%) in the presence of mobile hosts. S. carpocapsae also had higher average population displacement than H. bacteriophora in the presence of both the non-mobile (5.07 vs. 3.6 cm/day) and mobile (8.06 vs. 5.3 cm/day) hosts. We conclude that the two species differ in their dispersal and foraging behavior at the population level and this behavior is affected by both the presence and absence of hosts and by their mobility.
Bal HK, Grewal PS (2015) Lateral Dispersal and Foraging Behavior of Entomopathogenic Nematodes in the Absence and Presence of Mobile and Non-Mobile Hosts. PLoS ONE 10(6): e0129887. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0129887
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