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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Byron, Georgia » Fruit and Tree Nut Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #210721

Title: Trait Modification in Entomopathogenic Nematodes

item Shapiro Ilan, David
item Hopper, Keith

Submitted to: Society of Invertebrate Pathology
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/17/2007
Publication Date: 8/1/2007
Citation: Shapiro Ilan, D.I., Gaugler, R., Adams, B., Hopper, K.R. 2007. Trait Modification in Entomopathogenic Nematodes. Society of Invertebrate Pathology Annual Meeting, August 12-16, 2007, Quebec City, Canada. p. 71-72. Available:

Interpretive Summary: Entomopathogenic (insect-killing) nematodes are small round worms that can be used as natural environmentally friendly pesticides. The effectiveness of these nematodes depends on certain characteristics such as virulence (killing power) and the ability to withstand harsh environmental conditions that might be encountered in nature (such as heat). It is possible to improve the effectiveness of entomopathogenic nematodes by enhancing beneficial traits (such as virulence) through methods such as hybridization. Sometimes, due to repeated culturing of the nematodes, beneficial characteristics deteriorate. We have developed methodology to stabilized beneficial characters such as virulence and environmental tolerance.

Technical Abstract: A number of beneficial traits such as virulence, reproductive potential, and environmental tolerance are key factors in determining an organism’s ability to produce high levels of efficacy in biological control. Beneficial traits in entomopathogenic nematodes have been enhanced through molecular methods as well as non-molecular methods including selection, hybridization, and bacterial transfer. Deterioration or loss of beneficial traits during laboratory or industrial culture production is detrimental to biocontrol efficacy. During in vivo production, both partners in the nematode-bacterium complex can undergo change, which contributes to reduction in beneficial traits. The nematode’s bacterial symbiont also deteriorates when repeatedly cultured in vitro. Trait deterioration can be deterred through creation of selected inbred lines or improved cryopreservation techniques.