The phylum Nematoda comprises a diverse group of roundworms that includes parasites of vertebrates, invertebrates, and plants. Human-parasitic nematodes infect more than one billion people worldwide and cause some of the most common neglected tropical diseases, particularly in low-resource countries . Parasitic nematodes of livestock and crops result in billions of dollars in losses each year . Many nematode infections are treatable with low-cost anthelmintic drugs, but repeated infections are common in endemic areas and drug resistance is a growing concern with increasing therapeutic and agricultural administration . Many parasitic nematodes have an environmental infective larval stage that engages in host seeking, a process whereby the infective larvae use sensory cues to search for hosts. Host seeking is a complex behavior that involves multiple sensory modalities, including olfaction, gustation, thermosensation, and humidity sensation. As the initial step of the parasite-host interaction, host seeking could be a powerful target for preventative intervention. However, host-seeking behavior remains poorly understood. Here we review what is currently known about the host-seeking behaviors of different parasitic nematodes, including insect-parasitic nematodes, mammalian-parasitic nematodes, and plant-parasitic nematodes. We also discuss the neural bases of these behaviors.
Keywords: Entomopathogenic nematodes; Host-seeking behavior; Olfactory behavior; Parasitic helminths; Parasitic nematodes; Skin-penetrating nematodes.
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