Insect cellular and chemical limitations to pathogen development: The Colorado potato beetle, the nematode Heterorhabditis marelatus, and its symbiotic bacteria

Christine A. Armer, Sujaya Rao, Ralph E. Berry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

This research examines possible factors limiting pathogen development and reproduction in a novel host insect. The nematode Heterorhabditis marelatus and its symbiotic bacterium, Photorhabdus luminescens, kill 98% of nematode-treated Colorado potato beetle (CPB) prepupae, but the nematode reproduces in only 1-6% of beetles. We examined nematode/bacterial inhibition at each step of the normal developmental pathway to determine host feature(s) limiting nematode reproduction. We found that in vivo encapsulation of nematodes occurred in only 1.6% of CPB, and in 5% of in vitro hanging drops of hemolymph. Thus, the cellular defense system did not strongly limit nematode reproduction in the CPB. The symbiotic bacterium was negatively affected by a heat-labile factor found in the CPB's hemolymph which often caused the bacterium to switch from the primary form that produces antibiotics and nutrients necessary for the nematodes' development, to a secondary form that provides only limited nutrients. A 58 kDa protein was isolated and bioassayed for activity against P. luminescens, but caused a delay in bacterial growth rather than the primary-secondary form switch. Thus, the identity of the heat-labile factor could not be confirmed as being the 58 kDa protein. The heat-labile factor did not directly affect the nematode. The addition of lipids in the form of olive oil to heated CPB hemolymph allowed nematodes to reproduce in 17% of hanging drops, in contrast to zero reproduction in hemolymph without oil. Reproductive nematodes were smaller when grown in CPB hemolymph than in hemolymph of the highly susceptible Galleria mellonella. These data suggest that both the toxic heat-labile factor and a lack of appropriate nutrients alter the CPB-bacterium-nematode interaction. These factors preclude the use of this otherwise highly effective nematode-bacterial complex in the longterm control of the CPB.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)114-122
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Invertebrate Pathology
Volume87
Issue number2-3
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2004

Keywords

  • Biological control
  • Chrysomelid
  • Chrysomelidae
  • Entomopathogenic nematodes
  • Hanging drop
  • Hemolymph
  • Heterorhabditidae
  • Heterorhabditis marelatus
  • Insect-parasitic nematodes
  • Leptinotarsa decemlineata
  • Leptinotarsin
  • Photorhabdus luminescens

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