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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Gainesville, Florida » Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology » Chemistry Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #359873

Research Project: Insect, Nematode, and Plant Semiochemical Communication Systems

Location: Chemistry Research

Title: How do nematodes learn to find a host?

Author
item Willett, Denis - Cornell University - New York
item Alborn, Hans
item Stelinski, Lukasz - University Of Florida
item Shapiro Ilan, David

Submitted to: Science Journal for Kids
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/14/2018
Publication Date: 1/2/2019
Citation: Willett, D.S., Alborn, H.T., Stelinski, L., Shapiro Ilan, D.I. 2019. How do nematodes learn to find a host?. Science Journal for Kids. pgs.1-4. https://www.sciencejournalforkids.org/search-articles/how-do-nematodes-learn-to-find-a-host.

Interpretive Summary: Parasites are organisms such as insects that live in or on other organisms. All parasites want to find and successfully infect a host so that they can live and reproduce. It’s hard and risky for an individual parasite to infect a host – a group attack is a safer option. Insect-infecting nematodes use this strategy by following certain environmental signals, such as plant odors (scents). USDA-ARS scientists in Gainesville, FL and Byron Georgia in collaboration with a scientist at Cornell University wanted to see if nematodes’ previous experience with some odor changes their infection behavior. The scientists treated the host environment with different concentrations of two odors that have been shown to have an influence on nematodes and observed the infection success. Their experiments showed us that the nematodes’ past experience does indeed alter their infection behavior. This knowledge will be used to enhance the use of certain nematodes in programs that use natural systems to help control insect pests (biological control).

Technical Abstract: Parasites live in, or on, other organisms. All parasites want to find and successfully infect a host so that they can live and reproduce. It’s hard and risky for an individual parasite to infect a host – a group attack is a safer option. Insect-infecting nematodes use this strategy by following environmental signals, such as plant volatiles (scents). We wanted to see if past experience with some volatiles changes the infection behavior of nematodes. We treated the host environment with different concentrations of two volatiles known to have an influence on nematodes and observed the infection success. Our experiments showed us that the nematodes’ past experience alters their infection behavior.