Host-seeking behavior of the Heterorhabditis amazonensis nematode in response to stimulant sources1
ABSTRACT Several species of entomopathogenic nematodes have different host-seeking methods, and could be considered as "ambusher" or "cruiser". These differences may depend on how the nematodes detect the volatile signals used as cues for foraging. This study aimed to evaluate the locomotor response of Heterorhabditis amazonensis RSC5 to the compounds from root exudates of different plants, as well as to stimulants produced by the presence of insects or to the feeding activity of insects on plants. Arenas with agar-water substrates, containing root exudates from corn, bean, soybean, cucumber, garlic and tomato seedlings, were assembled to determine the substrates possibly preferred by H. amazonensis.Arenas with sand were also constructed to include, besides the seedling root exudates, treatments containing Spodoptera frugiperda, garlic seedlings and S. frugiperda feeding on garlic seedlings. The H. amazonensis species was attracted to the volatile chemicals emitted by all the root exudates tested, especially the exudate from garlic seedlings. However, it showed the greatest attraction to the combination of garlic seedlings and S. frugiperda, indicating that the search of H. amazonensis for its host is enhanced by the association between the insect and the volatile chemical compounds produced by plants, when attacked by insects.