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Screening of entomopathogenic nematodes for virulence against the invasive western corn rootworm, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) in Europe

  • S. Toepfer (a1), C. Gueldenzoph (a1), R.-U. Ehlers (a2) and U. Kuhlmann (a1)

Abstract

Entomopathogenic nematode species available in Europe were screened for their efficacy against both the root-feeding larvae and silk-feeding adults of the western corn rootworm, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte. Laboratory screening tests were aimed at the selection of candidate biological control agents for the management of this invasive alien pest in Europe. Steinernema glaseri, S. arenarium, S. abassi, S. bicornutum, S. feltiae, S. kraussei, S. carpocapsae and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora were studied to determine their virulence against third instar larvae and adults of D. v. virgifera in small-volume arenas (using nematode concentrations of 0.5, 0.8, 7.9 and 15.9 infective juveniles cm–2). All nematode species were able to invade and propagate in D. v. virgifera larvae, but adults were rarely infected. At concentrations of 7.9 and 15.9 cm–2, S. glaseri, S. arenarium, S. abassi and H. bacteriophora caused the highest larval mortality of up to 77%. Steinernema bicornutum, S. abassi, S. carpocapsae and H. bacteriophora appeared to have a high propagation level, producing 5970±779, 5595±811, 5341±1177 and 4039±1025 infective juveniles per larva, respectively. Steinernema glaseri, S. arenarium, S. feltiae, S. kraussei and H. bacteriophora were further screened at a concentration of 16.7 nematodes cm–2 against third instar larvae in medium-volume arenas (sand-filled trays with maize plants). Heterorhabditis bacteriophora, S. arenarium and S. feltiae caused the highest larval mortality with 77±16.6%, 67±3.5%, and 57±17.1%, respectively. In a next step, criteria for rating the entomopathogenic nematode species were applied based on results obtained for virulence and propagation, and for current production costs and availability in Europe. These criteria were then rated to determine the potential of the nematodes for further field testing. Results showed the highest potential in H. bacteriophora, followed by S. arenarium and S. feltiae, for further testing as candidate biological control agents.

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*Fax: +0041 32 4214871 E-mail: u.kuhlmann@cabi.org

References

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