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Spontaneous and induced activity of Heterorhabditis megidis infective juveniles during storage

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For more content, see Nematologica.

Infective juveniles (IJ) of three Heterorhabditis megidis isolates, HF85, EU17 and UK211, were stored in water at 20°C for up to 10 weeks. At 2-week intervals, activity, infectivity, energy reserves and survival were measured. There was no difference between the three isolates in infectivity, which increased significantly over the first 2 weeks and declined gradually thereafter. IJ became inactive during storage. Out of storage, the highest activity was recorded in week 0: nearly all IJ were active within the first minute of observation and remained active for the 20-min observation period. With increasing storage time, an increasing proportion of IJ were inactive in the first minute, reaching 83–96% by week 6. The time taken by 50% of the IJ to become active (AT50) initially increased with nematode age, reaching a maximum of 3–7 min in week 4 or 6 (depending on isolate) but subsequently declined to 2–4 min in week 10. By the time the IJ were becoming more readily activated in weeks 6–8, 75% of the lipid reserves had been depleted, and IJ had started to die. This greater propensity to become active with age may represent a switch to risk-taking behaviour in the face of impending starvation.


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