Effects of host nutrition on virulence and fitness of entomopathogenic nematodes: Lipid- and protein-based supplements in <I>Tenebrio molitor</I> diets


  • David Shapiro-Ilan
  • M. Guadalupe Rojas
  • Juan A. Morales-Ramos
  • Edwin E. Lewis
  • W. Louis Tedders


diet, entomopathogenic nematode, Heterorhabditis, in vivo, mass production, Steinernema


Entomopathogenic nematodes, Heterorhabditis indica and Steinernema riobrave, were tested for virulence and reproductive yield in Tenebrio molitor that were fed wheat bran diets with varying lipid- and protein-based supplements. Lipid supplements were based on 20% canola oil, peanut, pork or salmon, or a low lipid control (5% canola). Protein treatments consisted of basic supplement ingredients plus 0, 10, or 20% egg white; a bran-only control was also included. Some diet supplements had positive effects on nematode quality, whereas others had negative or neutral effects. All supplements with 20% lipids except canola oil caused increased T. molitor susceptibility to H. indica, whereas susceptibility to S. riobrave was not affected. Protein supplements did not affect host susceptibility, and neither lipid nor protein diet supplements affected reproductive capacity of either nematode species. Subsequently, we determined the pest control efficacy of progeny of nematodes that had been reared through T. molitor from different diets against Diaprepes abbreviatus and Otiorhynchus sulcatus. All nematode treatments reduced insect survival relative to the control (water only). Nematodes originating from T. molitor diets with the 0% or 20% protein exhibited lower efficacy versus D. abbreviatus than the intermediate level of protein (10%) or bran-only treatments. Nematodes originating from T. molitor lipid or control diets did not differ in virulence. Our research indicates that nutritional content of an insect host diet can affect host susceptibility to entomopathogenic nematodes and nematode fitness; therefore, host media could conceivably be optimized to increase in vivo nematode production efficiency.