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Article contents

Probing the tri-trophic interaction between insects, nematodes and Photorhabdus

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 May 2010

I. ELEFTHERIANOS
Affiliation:
Department of Biology and Biochemistry, University of Bath, Claverton Down, Bath BA2 7AY, UK Department of Biological Sciences, The George Washington University, Washington, D.C. 20052, USA
S. JOYCE
Affiliation:
Department of Microbiology, University College Cork, National University of Ireland, Cork, Ireland
R. H. FFRENCH-CONSTANT
Affiliation:
School of Biosciences, University of Exeter in Cornwall, Penryn TR10 9EZ, UK
D. J. CLARKE
Affiliation:
Department of Microbiology, University College Cork, National University of Ireland, Cork, Ireland
S. E. REYNOLDS
Affiliation:
Department of Biology and Biochemistry, University of Bath, Claverton Down, Bath BA2 7AY, UK
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Summary

Photorhabdus sp. are entomopathogenic bacteria which, upon experimental infection, interact with the insect immune system, but little is known about the roles of their symbiotic nematode partners Heterorhabditis sp. in natural infections. Here, we investigated the respective contributions of nematodes and bacteria by examining humoral and cellular immune reactions of the model lepidopteran insect Manduca sexta against Heterorhabditis carrying Photorhabdus, nematodes free of bacteria (axenic nematodes) and bacteria alone. Insect mortality was slower following infection with axenic nematodes than when insects were infected with nematodes containing Photorhabdus, or the bacteria alone. Nematodes elicited host immune responses to a lesser extent than bacteria. Transcription of certain recognition and antibacterial genes was lower when insects were naturally infected with nematodes carrying no bacteria compared to insects that received bacteria, either with or without nematodes. Axenic nematodes also did not elicit such high levels of phenoloxidase activity and haemocyte aggregates as did treatments involving Photorhabdus. By contrast, the phagocytic capability of host haemocytes was decreased by both axenic and bacteria-associated nematodes, but not by Photorhabdus alone. These results imply that both bacteria and nematodes contribute separately to the pathogenic modulation of host immune responses during natural infections by the mutualistic Heterorhabdus-Photorhabdus complex.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2010

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