Viability and Virulence of Entomopathogenic Nematodes Exposed to Ultraviolet Radiation
AbstractEntomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs) can be highly effective biocontrol agents, but their efficacy can be reduced due to
exposure to environmental stress such as from ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Our objectives were to 1) compare UV tolerance among
a broad array of EPN species, and 2) investigate the relationship between reduced nematode viability (after exposure to UV) and
virulence. Nematodes exposed to a UVradiation (254 nm) for 10 or 20 min were assessed separately for viability (survival) and virulence to Galleria mellonella. We compared 9 different EPN species and 15 strains: Heterorhabditis bacteriophora (Baine, fl11, Oswego, and Vs strains), H. floridensis (332), H. georgiana (Kesha), H. indica (HOM1), H. megidis (UK211), Steinernema carpocapsae (All, Cxrd, DD136, and Sal strains), S. feltiae (SN), S. rarum (17C&E), and S. riobrave (355). In viability assessments, steinernematids, particularly strains of S. carpocapsae, generally exhibited superior UV tolerance compared with the heterorhabditids. However, some heterorhabditids tended to be more tolerant than others, e.g., H. megidis and H. bacteriophora (Baine) weremost susceptible and H. bacteriophora (Vs) was the only heterorhabditid that did not exhibit a significant effect after 10 min of exposure. All heterorhabditids experienced reduced viability after 20 min exposure though several S. carpocapsae strains did not. In total, after 10 or 20min exposure, the viability of seven nematode strains did not differ fromtheir non-UVexposed controls. In virulence assays, steinernematids (particularly S. carpocapsae strains) also tended to exhibit higher UV tolerance. However, in contrast to the viability measurements, all nematodes experienced a reduction in virulence relative to their controls. Correlation analysis revealed that viability among nematode strains is not necessarily related to virulence. In conclusion, our results indicate that the impact of UV varies substantially among EPNs, and viability alone is not a sufficientmeasure for potential impact on biocontrol efficacy as other characters such as virulence may be severely affected even when viability remains high.