Effect of Exsheathment on Motility and Pathogenicity of Two Entomopathogenic Nematode Species

  • L. Rickert Campbell
  • R. Gaugler


The effect of sheath loss on motility and pathogenicity of the entomopathogenic nematodes, Heterorhabditis bacteriophora and Steinernema carpocapasae, was examined using both naturally and chemically exsheathed (desheathed) infective juveniles. Exsheathed S. carpocapsae showed increased motility on agar compared to sheathed nematodes. The presence of a host increased motility threefold in all S. carpocapsae treatments. These results suggest that activation of S. carpocapsae host finding may result from sheath loss in addition to host stimuli. Desheathed H. bacteriophora were significantly less motile than the sheathed or exsheathed groups. The decreased motility may be due to adverse effects of the chemical treatment for desheathment. Sheath loss did not affect the pathogenicity of either species. Key words: Heterorhabditis bacteriophora, host-finding behavior, nematode, sheath, Steinernema carpocapsae.