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Parasitol Res. 2003 Dec;91(6):520-4. Epub 2003 Oct 14.

Effect of native Xenorhabdus on the fitness of their Steinernema hosts: contrasting types of interaction.

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


Steinernema species are entomopathogenic nematodes. They are symbiotically associated with Enterobacteriaceae of the genus Xenorhabdus. These nematode-bacteria symbioses are extremely diversified and constitute an important new model in ecology and evolution to investigate symbioses between microbes and invertebrates. However, no study has so far adequately evaluated either the outcome of the interactions or the obligate nature of interactions in different Steinernema species in the same way. Studying three different species of Steinernema, we showed that symbiotic nematodes are always fitter than aposymbiotic ones. Nevertheless, we revealed contrasting types of interaction in terms of outcome and obligate nature of the interaction. Bacterial analyses showed that nematode species differed dramatically in the number of symbiotic Xenorhabdus they carried. We suggested that when the interaction appeared more facultative for a nematode species, the nematodes carried fewer Xenorhabdus cells than strongly dependent worm species. Thus, the symbiont transmission appeared to become more efficient as the relationship between the nematode and the bacteria became tighter.

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