Chemoattraction in Pristionchus nematodes and implications for insect recognition

Curr Biol. 2006 Dec 5;16(23):2359-65. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2006.10.031.


Nematodes and insects are the two dominant animal taxa in species numbers, and nematode-insect interactions constitute a significant portion of interspecies associations in a diversity of ecosystems. It has been speculated that most insects represent mobile microhabitats in which nematodes can obtain food, mobility, and shelter. Nematode-insect associations can be classified as phoretic (insects used for transportation, not as food), necromenic (insect used for transportation, then carcass as food), and entomopathogenic (insect is killed and used as food). To determine how nematodes target their hosts, we analyzed the chemosensory response and behavioral parameters of closely related Pristionchus nematodes that form species-specific necromenic associations with scarab beetles and the Colorado potato beetle. We found that all four studied Pristionchus species displayed unique chemoattractive profiles toward insect pheromones and plant volatiles with links to Pristionchus habitats. Moreover, chemoattraction in P. pacificus differs from that of C. elegans not only in the types of attractants, but also in its tempo, mode, and concentration response range. We conclude that Pristionchus olfaction is highly diverse among closely related species and is likely to be involved in shaping nematode-host interactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biodiversity
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology
  • Chemotaxis*
  • Coleoptera / parasitology*
  • Host-Parasite Interactions*
  • Nematoda / physiology*
  • Species Specificity