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Do Antibiotic Compounds Produced in Vitro By Xenorhabdus Nematophilus Minimize the Secondary Invasion of Insect Carcasses By Contaminating Bacteria?

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Larvae of the greater wax moth (Galleria mellonella) infected with the rhabditid Steinernema carpocapsae do not putrefy in the life cycle of the nematode, and it has been commonly suggested that Xenorhabdus nematophilus prevents putrefaction of the insect cadaver by the production of antibiotic compounds that inhibit the secondary invasion by proteolytic bacteria. The evidence that inhibiting substances are not present in all developmental stages of the parasite and an extremely low antibiotic potency of a narrow spectrum of antibacterial activity found in Galleria parasitized with S. carpocapsae do not support these speculations. Some other competition mechanisms must be active in infected larvae since the resistance of insect carcass to decay cannot be explained simply by antibiotic inhibition of contaminating bacterial microflora. The lack of putrefaction could rather result from little or no competition for the infecting Xenorhabdus that by a rapid colonization of insect body and overgrowth prevents secondary invasion of the insect carcass. It is postulated that in the first stages of the parasitism an antibiotic-like compound produced by the primary variant of bacterial symbiont and an immune inhibitor of cecropin antibacterial activity secreted by S. carpocapsae could contribute to the massive development of X. nematophilus in parasitized insect host.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Insect Pathology, Institute of Biology, Marie Curie-Sklodowska University, Akademicka 19, 20-033 Lublin, Poland


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