Behavioural response of Heterorhabditis megidis towards plant roots and insect larvae

M.I.C. Boff, R.W.H.M. van Tol, P.H. Smits

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44 Citations (Scopus)


The behavioural response of infective juveniles (IJs) of Heterorhabditis megidis (strain NLH-E87.3) to cues from roots of strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa Duch.), thuja (Thuja occidentalis L.) and to larvae of the black vine weevil, Otiorhynchus sulcatus, was studied. Choice assays were conducted in an Y-tube olfactometer filled with moist sand. Infective juveniles were activated by the presence of intact roots of both strawberry and thuja plants. Some nematodes aggregated in the compartments with roots but most moved away from the roots to the opposite side. Given a choice, IJs showed a preference for strawberry roots above O. sulcatus larvae. No difference in preference was observed between thuja roots and O. sulcatus larvae. The combination of strawberry roots with vine weevil larvae was preferred above roots alone. In the assays with thuja roots and larvae versus thuja roots alone, however, IJs were stimulated to move but showed preference for the opposite compartment away from the arms with roots and larvae. Nematodes responded differently to mechanically damaged roots as opposed to roots damaged by vine weevil larvae. In assays with damaged thuja roots, IJs were most attracted by the roots damaged by larvae, whereas in the strawberry assays IJs showed a clear preference for the mechanically damaged roots. When challenged with a choice between strawberry and thuja roots, IJs moved preferentially to strawberry than to thuja roots. A preference for the combination of strawberry roots plus larvae over the thuja roots plus larvae was also observed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-83
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Entomopathogenic nematodes
  • Fragaria x ananassa, Otiorhynchus sulcatus, Thuja occidentalis
  • Host-finding
  • Nematode behaviour


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