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Cryobiology. 2013 Feb;66(1):24-9. doi: 10.1016/j.cryobiol.2012.10.004. Epub 2012 Nov 8.

Cold tolerance abilities of two entomopathogenic nematodes, Steinernema feltiae and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora.

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  • 1Department of Zoology, University of Otago, P.O. Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand.


Entomopathogenic nematodes are effective biological control agents against insect pests but their commercial application is restricted by their limited shelf life. This study applies our knowledge of the cold tolerance of nematodes to this problem and investigates further the cold tolerance mechanisms of Steinernema feltiae and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora infective juveniles. When frozen using a fast freezing regime these nematodes are moderately freezing tolerant, with a lower lethal temperature of -5°C. Survival is significantly enhanced by slow freezing overnight (at -1°C), with a decrease in the lower lethal temperature to -14°C. This may indicate that these nematodes are capable of cryoprotective dehydration. Acclimation at 5°C further enhanced freezing survival in S. feltiae but only by a small amount. Nematodes that had survived freezing to -13°C retained their pathogenicity to an insect host. Rapid cold hardening or exposure to a cold shock had no significant effect on freezing survival. The further development of methods based on cryoprotective dehydration may result in a method for the commercial storage of these nematodes.

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