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Scavenging or infection? Possible host choosing by entomopathogenic nematodes

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Abstract

Entomopathogenic nematodes are able to survive by scavenging. We tested Steinernema feltiae, S. affine and Heterorhabditis megidis alone or in different combinations to evaluate the responses of these nematodes when dead or live Galleria mellonella larvae were offered. Steinernema feltiae and S. affine scavenged upon dead G. mellonella larvae and about 30% more dead larvae were penetrated than live ones. By contrast, H. megidis penetrated more live larvae than dead ones. When the nematode species were combined, the results varied among the combinations, but the dead larvae were always used as a host. The behaviour of natural field populations of S. feltiae and S. affine was also compared. Steinernema feltiae showed no difference between scavenging and performing 'normal infections', whereas S. affine scavenged to a reduced amount (around 60% less); this difference could be related to the particular foraging strategy of these nematodes.

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