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Int J Parasitol. 1997 Jan;27(1):61-70.

Desiccation survival and water contents of entomopathogenic nematodes, Steinernema spp. (Rhabditida:Steinernematidae).

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Department of Biology, Imperial College of Science, Technology & Medicine, Ascot, Berkshire, U.K.


The survival of exsheathed infective juveniles (IJs) of 4 Steinernema species, S. glaseri (NC), S. feltiae (UK76), S. carpocapsae (All) and S. riobravis (Biosys355), was assessed following fast and slow drying on glass slides and 1% (w/v) agarose, respectively. Freshly harvested and aged (75-day-old) IJs were desiccated on glass slides after removal of superficial water, at 0, 20, 40, 60 and 80% relative humidity (r.h.). Survival was assessed after rehydration with water, and movement was used as the criterion for survival. Evidence for an intrinsic mechanism to control water loss and survive desiccation was found in freshly harvested S. carpocapsae IJs. At all r.h.s tested, S. carpocapsae had the greatest survival and the slowest rate of water loss. For example, at 80% r.h. the survival time for 50% (S50) of S. carpocapsae IJs was ca. 45 min compared with 5-20 min for the other species. Survival of aged IJs was markedly reduced in the case of S. carpocapsae and S. riobravis, and to a lesser extent in S. feltiae and S. glaseri. The 2nd stage juvenile cuticle (sheath) was not important in aiding desiccation survival of S. carpocapsae and S. glaseri. Drying IJs slowly on 1% agarose at 80% r.h. greatly improved the survival of all 4 species, particularly S. glaseri and S. feltiae. The work is discussed in relation to possible mechanisms for survival of IJs during fast and slow drying.

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