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Naturwissenschaften. 2005 Oct;92(10):472-6. Epub 2005 Oct 28.

Specialization of the entomopathogenic nematode Steinernema scapterisci with its mutualistic Xenorhabdus symbiont.

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  • 1Laboratoire Génome, Populations, Interactions, Adaptation c.c.105 UMR 5171 CNRS-UMII-IFREMER, Université de Montpellier II, Place Eugène Bataillon, 34095, Montpellier Cedex 05, France.


The level of specialization of the entomopathogenic nematode Steinernema scapterisci with its native Xenorhabdus symbiont was investigated by testing (1) the influence of non-native bacterial strains on nematode fitness within an insect-host (Galleria mellonella) and (2) specificity of the association between the nematode infective juveniles and non-native bacteria. All non-native Xenorhabdus spp. or Photorhabdus spp. strains tested were mutualistically associated with other entomopathogenic nematodes in nature. We showed that most of the Xenorhabdus spp. strains tested led to an insignificant difference of the nematode's fitness compared to the one obtained with the native bacterium. Conversely, Photorhabdus spp. strains almost entirely abolished nematode reproduction. The phylogenetic analysis of bacterial strains tested, showed that there was a negative correlation between S. scapterisci's reproduction rate with a bacterial strain and the genetic distance of this bacterial strain from the native one. We also showed that the native bacterium was the only one which was transmitted by S. scapterisci's infective juveniles. All these results, suggested a specialization between S. scapterisci and its native Xenorhabdus. As the same phenomenon was already demonstrated in the association between S. carpocapsae and X. nematophila, specialization between partners would not be an exception in entomopathogenic nematode-bacteria interactions. Nevertheless, S. scapterisci showed a dramatically higher compatibility with non-native Xenorhabdus spp. strains than did S. carpocapsae, suggesting differences in the co-evolutionary processes between nematodes and bacteria in these two model systems.

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