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Parasitol Res. 2007 Feb;100(3):657-9. Epub 2006 Aug 30.

Effect of bacterial symbionts Xenorhabdus on mortality of infective juveniles of two Steinernema species.

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  • 1Laboratoire Génome, Populations, Interactions, Adaptation, c.c. 63 CNRS-UM2-IFREMER UMR 5171, Université de Montpellier 2, Place Eugène Bataillon, 34095, Cedex 05 Montpellier, France.


Steinernema species are entomopathogenic nematodes associated with Xenorhabdus bacteria. The life cycle of these associations is composed of two stages: (1) a free stage in the soil, where infective juveniles (IJs), which carry bacteria in their guts, search for new insect hosts; and (2) a parasitic stage, where the IJs infect insects, release their Xenorhabdus symbionts and reproduce in order to produce new IJs. Previous studies clearly showed benefits to the association for several Steinernema species during the parasitic stage. Nevertheless, no study has so far explored, during the free stage, the existence of costs or benefits to the association for different Steinernema. Here, we compared the survival of both symbiotic and aposymbiotic IJs in two nematode species: (1) Steinernema carpocapsae-exhibiting IJs that carry a high number of Xenorhabdus cells in their guts; and (2) its closely relative species, S. scapterisci-exhibiting IJs, that carry very few Xenorhabdus cells in their guts. We showed that the bacterial symbionts were costly for S. carpocapsae by increasing IJs' mortality but not for S. scapterisci. This difference in cost induced by bacteria to IJs during the free stage could be correlated with the difference in the numbers of bacteria carried by IJs of each nematode species.

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