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Description and Biology of a New Insect Parasitic Rhabditoid, Heterorhabditis Bacteriophora N. Gen., N. Sp. (Rhabditida; Heterorhabditidae N. Fam.)

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The new family, Heterorhabditidae, containing the new genus and species, Heterorhabditis bacteriophora is described. This new species of Rhabditoidea was recovered from Heliothis punctigera Hall (Noctuidae) at Brecon, South Australia. The infective stage juveniles of this nematode carry a specific bacterium in their intestines which is released after the parasites enter the body cavity of a healthy insect. The bacteria kill the insect in 48 hours, and the infective stage juveniles develop into hermaphroditic females that produce young which develop into males and females. The latter mate and produce juveniles that develop into infective stages, which leave the cadaver and search for a new host. H. bacteriophora differs from other nematodes in the Rhabditoidea by possessing a vestigial valve in the basal pharyngeal bulb, a reduced stoma, and dauer stages capable of entering the body cavity of healthy insects. Aside from members of the genus, Neoaplectana, it is the only nematode known to serve as a vector for a bacterial disease of insects. The new species also exhibits heterogony. The nematode described by Pereira (1937) as Rhabditis hambletoni is transferred to the genus Heterorhabditis.

Affiliations: 1: Division of Entomology and Parasitology, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720, U.S.A.


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