Movement of Five Nematode Species through Sand Subjected to Natural Temperature Gradient Fluctuations


  • A. F. Robinson


Temperature gradient fluctuations that occur naturally as a result of heating and cooling of the soil surface were reproduced within 15-cm-d, 15-cm-long acrylic tubes filled with moist sand. Sunny and rainy periods during the late summer in eastern Texas were simulated. Five ecologically different nematode species were adapted to fluctuating temperatures for 20-36 hours at a simulated depth of 12.5 cm before being injected simultaneously into the centers of tubes at that depth. When heat waves were propagated horizontally to eliminate gravitational effects, the movement of Ditylenchus phyllobius, Steinernema glaseri, and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora relative to the thermal surface was rapid and largely random. However, Rotylenchulus reniformis moved away from and Meloidogyne incognita moved toward the thermal surface. When heat waves were propagated upward or downward, responses to temperature were the same as when propagated horizontally, irrespective of gravity. The initial direction of movement 1.5 hours after introduction to 20-era-long tubes at five depths at five intervals within a 24-hour cycle indicated that M. incognita moved away from and R. reniformis moved toward the temperature to which last exposed. Differences in movement of the five species tested relative to gravity appeared related to body length, with the smallest nematodes moving downward and the largest moving upward. Key words: behavior, Ditylenchus phyllobius, Heterorhabditis bacteriophora, Meloidogyne incognita, nematode, Rotylenchulus reniformis, Steinernema glaseri, temperature, thermotaxis.