Movement of the parasitic nematode Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita in the presence of mucus from the host slug Deroceras reticulatum

Simona M. Hapca, John W. Crawford, Robert Rae, Michael Wilson, Iain M. Young

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    22 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita is a parasitic nematode capable of killing several species of slugs including Deroceras reticulatum, the most widespread slug pest in the world. This nematode can control slug infestations in a wide range of crops such as wheat, lettuce and strawberries. Optimization of this biocontrol agent depends on a proper understanding of the interaction between the host and parasite. In this paper, we investigate the response of P. hermaphrodita to the presence of slug mucus on plates of agar. We define an attraction index and find that the nematodes are significantly attracted by filter paper impregnated with slug mucus compared to paper impregnated with water. Second, nematode trails were recorded on a homogeneous layer of technical agar, with or without the presence of the slug mucus. Mucus was applied in two treatments comprising localization on a piece of filter paper and a uniform distribution across the plate. The different mucus treatments induced significantly different effects on the speed of nematode movement and the distribution of the turning angles, as well as the fractal dimension of nematode foraging trail. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that the nematodes exhibit both a chemotactic and chemokinetic response to a signal emanating from slug mucus.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)223-229
    Number of pages7
    JournalBiological Control
    Volume41
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2007

    Keywords

    • Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita
    • Deroceras reticulatum
    • Chemotaxis
    • Chemokinesis
    • Attraction index
    • Nematode movement
    • Turning angle distribution
    • Fractal dimension

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