Inter- and intra-specific cuticle variation between amphimictic and parthenogenetic species of root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne spp.) as revealed by a bacterial parasite (Pasteuria penetrans)

K G Davies, J A Rowe, V M Williamson
International Journal for Parasitology 2008, 38 (7): 851-9
Specific host-parasite interactions exist between species and strains of plant parasitic root-knot nematodes and the Gram-positive bacterial hyperparasite Pasteuria penetrans. This bacterium produces endospores that adhere to the cuticle of migrating juveniles, germinate and colonise the developing female within roots. Endospore attachment of P. penetrans populations to second-stage juveniles of the root-knot nematode species Meloidogyne incognita and Meloidogyne hapla showed there were interactive differences between bacterial populations and nematode species. Infected females of M. incognita produced a few progeny which were used to establish two nematode lines from single infective juveniles encumbered with either three or 26 endospores. Single juvenile descent lines of each nematode species were produced to test whether cuticle variation was greater within M. hapla lines that reproduce by facultative meiotic parthenogenesis than within lines of M. incognita, which reproduces by obligate parthenogenesis. Assays revealed variability between broods of individual females derived from single second-stage juvenile descent lines of both M. incognita and M. hapla suggesting that progeny derived from a single individual can differ in spore adhesion in both sexual and asexual nematode species. These results suggest that special mechanisms that produced these functional differences in the cuticle surface may have evolved in both sexually and asexually reproducing nematodes as a strategy to circumvent infection by this specialised hyperparasite.

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