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J Invertebr Pathol. 2008 Sep;99(1):20-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jip.2008.02.001. Epub 2008 Feb 13.

Pathogenic effect of entomopathogenic nematode-bacterium complexes on terrestrial isopods.

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  • 1Universit√© de Poitiers, Laboratoire Ecologie, Evolution, Symbiose, UMR CNRS 6556, Poitiers cedex, France. mathieu.sicard@univ-poitiers.fr


In this study, we evaluated the effect of entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs) Steinernema carpocapsae, Steinernema feltiae and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora, symbiotically associated with bacteria of the genera Xenorhabdus or Photorhabdus, on the survival of eight terrestrial isopod species. The EPN species S. carpocapsae and H. bacteriophora reduced the survival of six isopod species while S. feltiae reduced survival for two species. Two terrestrial isopod species tested (Armadillidium vulgare and Armadillo officinalis) were found not to be affected by treatment with EPNs while the six other isopod species showed survival reduction with at least one EPN species. By using aposymbiotic S. carpocapsae (i.e. without Xenorhabdus symbionts), we showed that nematodes can be isopod pathogens on their own. Nevertheless, symbiotic nematodes were more pathogenic for isopods than aposymbiotic ones showing that bacteria acted synergistically with their nematodes to kill isopods. By direct injection of entomopathogenic bacteria into isopod hemolymph, we showed that bacteria had a pathogenic effect on terrestrial isopods even if they appeared unable to multiply within isopod hemolymphs. A developmental study of EPNs in isopods showed that two of them (S. carpocapsae and H. bacteriophora) were able to develop while S. feltiae could not. No EPN species were able to produce offspring emerging from isopods. We conclude that EPN and their bacteria can be pathogens for terrestrial isopods but that such hosts represent a reproductive dead-end for them. Thus, terrestrial isopods appear not to be alternative hosts for EPN populations maintained in the absence of insects.

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