Evolution of sperm size in nematodes: sperm competition favours larger sperm.
In the free-living rhabditid nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, sperm size is a determinant of sperm competitiveness. Larger sperm crawl faster and physically displace smaller sperm to take fertilization priority, but not without a cost: larger sperm are produced at a slower rate. Here, we investigate the evolution of sperm size in the family Rhabditidae by comparing sperm among 19 species, seven of which are hermaphroditic (self-fertile hermaphrodites and males), the rest being gonochoristic (females and males). We found that sperm size differed significantly with reproductive mode: males of gonochoristic species had significantly larger sperm than did males of the hermaphroditic species. Because males compose 50% of the populations of gonochoristic species but are rare in hermaphroditic species, the risk of male-male sperm competition is greater in gonochoristic species. Larger sperm have thus evolved in species with a greater risk of sperm competition. Our results support recent studies contending that sperm size may increase in response to sperm competition. (+info)
Papillomatous pastern dermatitis with spirochetes and Pelodera strongyloides in a Tennessee Walking Horse.
Papillomatous digital dermatitis is a common disease in cattle. The pastern dermatitis observed in a horse shared many of the gross characteristics of papillomatous digital dermatitis in cattle. Lesions included a mixture of proliferative and erosive changes, with a verrucose appearance in some areas. Microscopic similarities included pseudoepitheliomatous and papillomatous epidermal hyperplasia with hyperkeratosis, spongiosis of the epidermis, and intraepidermal spirochetes. The horse was also concurrently infected with Pelodera strongyloides. Papillomatous digital dermatitis in cattle is associated with poor husbandry practices. The environment of the affected horse was heavily contaminated with urine, manure, and other organic debris. Verrucous pododermatitis of horses may be the same as or similar to bovine papillomatous digital dermatitis, and these conditions have similar etiologies. (+info)
A new broad-spectrum protease inhibitor from the entomopathogenic bacterium Photorhabdus luminescens.
A new protease inhibitor was purified to apparent homogeneity from a culture medium of Photorhabdus luminescens by ammonium sulfate precipitation and preparative isoelectric focusing followed by affinity chromatography. Ph. luminescens, a bacterium symbiotically associated with the insect-parasitic nematode Heterorhabditis bacteriophora, exists in two morphologically distinguishable phases (primary and secondary). It appears that only the secondary-phase bacterium produces this protease inhibitor. The protease inhibitor has an M:(r) of approximately 12000 as determined by SDS-PAGE. Its activity is stable over a pH range of 3.5-11 and at temperatures below 50 degrees C. The N-terminal 16 amino acids of the protease inhibitor were determined as STGIVTFKND(X)GEDIV and have a very high sequence homology with the N-terminal region of an endogenous inhibitor (IA-1) from the fruiting bodies of an edible mushroom, Pleurotus ostreatus. The purified protease inhibitor inactivated the homologous protease with an almost 1:1 stoichiometry. It also inhibited proteases from a related insect-nematode-symbiotic bacterium, Xenorhabdus nematophila. Interestingly, when present at a molar ratio of 5 to 1, this new protease inhibitor completely inactivated the activity of both trypsin and elastase. The activity of proteinase A and cathepsin G was partially inhibited by this bacterial protease inhibitor, but it had no effect on chymotrypsin, subtilisin, thermolysin and cathepsins B and D. The newly isolated protease inhibitor from the secondary-phase bacteria and its specific inhibition of its own protease provides an explanation as to why previous investigators failed to detect the presence of protease activity in the secondary-phase bacteria. The functional implications of the protease inhibitor are also discussed in relation to the physiology of nematode-symbiotic bacteria. (+info)
Comparative genetics: a third model nematode species.
Recent studies have introduced Oscheius sp. CEW1 as a third nematode species accessible to genetic analysis, joining the better known Caenorhabditis elegans and Pristionchus pacificus. A group of vulva-defective mutants in Oscheius has been identified, with defects not seen in C. elegans. (+info)
Control of vulval cell division number in the nematode Oscheius/Dolichorhabditis sp. CEW1.
Spatial patterning of vulval precursor cell fates is achieved through a different two-stage induction mechanism in the nematode Oscheius/Dolichorhabditis sp. CEW1 compared with Caenorhabditis elegans. We therefore performed a genetic screen for vulva mutants in Oscheius sp. CEW1. Most mutants display phenotypes unknown in C. elegans. Here we present the largest mutant category, which affects division number of the vulva precursors P(4-8).p without changing their fate. Among these mutations, some reduce the number of divisions of P4.p and P8.p specifically. Two mutants omit the second cell cycle of all vulval lineages. A large subset of mutants undergo additional rounds of vulval divisions. We also found precocious and retarded heterochronic mutants. Whereas the C. elegans vulval lineage mutants can be interpreted as overall (homeotic) changes in precursor cell fates with concomitant cell cycle changes, the mutants described in Oscheius sp. CEW1 do not affect overall precursor fate and thereby dissociate the genetic mechanisms controlling vulval cell cycle and fate. Laser ablation experiments in these mutants reveal that the two first vulval divisions in Oscheius sp. CEW1 appear to be redundantly controlled by a gonad-independent mechanism and by a gonadal signal that operates partially independently of vulval fate induction. (+info)
Pathogenicity of Moraxella osloensis, a bacterium associated with the nematode Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita, to the slug Deroceras reticulatum.
Moraxella osloensis, a gram-negative bacterium, is associated with Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita, a nematode parasite of slugs. This bacterium-feeding nematode has potential for the biological control of slugs, especially the grey garden slug, Deroceras reticulatum. Infective juveniles of P. hermaphrodita invade the shell cavity of the slug, develop into self-fertilizing hermaphrodites, and produce progeny, resulting in host death. However, the role of the associated bacterium in the pathogenicity of the nematode to the slug is unknown. We discovered that M. osloensis alone is pathogenic to D. reticulatum after injection into the shell cavity or hemocoel of the slug. The bacteria from 60-h cultures were more pathogenic than the bacteria from 40-h cultures, as indicated by the higher and more rapid mortality of the slugs injected with the former. Coinjection of penicillin and streptomycin with the 60-h bacterial culture reduced its pathogenicity to the slug. Further work suggested that the reduction and loss of pathogenicity of the aged infective juveniles of P. hermaphrodita to D. reticulatum result from the loss of M. osloensis from the aged nematodes. Also, axenic J1/J2 nematodes were nonpathogenic after injection into the shell cavity. Therefore, we conclude that the bacterium is the sole killing agent of D. reticulatum in the nematode-bacterium complex and that P. hermaphrodita acts only as a vector to transport the bacterium into the shell cavity of the slug. The identification of the toxic metabolites produced by M. osloensis is being pursued. (+info)
Response of ants to a deterrent factor(s) produced by the symbiotic bacteria of entomopathogenic nematodes.
The production of an ant-deterrent factor(s) (ADF) by Xenorhabdus nematophila and Photorhabdus luminescens, the symbiotic bacteria of the nematodes Steinernema carpocapsae and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora, respectively, was examined. In addition to an in vivo assay in which bacteria were tested for their ability to produce ADF within insect cadavers (M.E. Baur, H. K. Kaya, and D. R. Strong, Biol. Control 12:231-236, 1998), an in vitro microtiter dish assay was developed to monitor ADF activity produced by bacteria grown in cultures. Using these methods, we show that ADF activity is present in the supernatants of bacterial cultures, is filterable, heat stable, and acid sensitive, and passes through a 10-kDa-pore-size membrane. Thus, ADF appears to be comprised of a small, extracellular, and possibly nonproteinaceous compound(s). The amount of ADF repellency detected depends on the ant species being tested, the sucrose concentration (in vitro assays), and the strain, form, and age of the ADF-producing bacteria. These findings demonstrate that the symbiotic bacteria of some species of entomopathogenic nematodes produce a compound(s) that deters scavengers such as ants and thus could protect nematodes from being eaten during reproduction within insect cadavers. (+info)
For the insect pathogen Photorhabdus luminescens, which end of a nematode is out?
The nematode Heterorhabditis bacteriophora is the vector for transmitting the entomopathogenic bacterium Photorhabdus luminescens between insect larvae. The dauer juvenile (DJ) stage nematode selectively retains P. luminescens in its intestine until it releases the bacteria into the hemocoel of an insect host. We report the results of studying the transmission of the bacteria by its nematode vector. Cells of P. luminescens labeled with green fluorescent protein preferentially colonized a region of the DJ intestine immediately behind the basal bulb, extending for various distances toward the anus. Incubation of DJ nematodes in vitro in insect hemolymph induced regurgitation of the bacteria. Following a 30-min lag, the bacteria migrated in a gradual and staggered movement toward and ultimately exited the mouth. This regurgitation reaction was induced by a low-molecular-weight, heat- and protease-stable, anionic component present in arthropod hemolymph and in supernatants from insect cell cultures. Nematodes anesthetized with levamisole or treated with the antihelmenthic agent ivermectin did not release their bacteria into hemolymph. The ability to visualize P. luminescens in the DJ nematode intestine provides the first clues to the mechanism of release of the bacteria during infection of insect larvae. This and the partial characterization of a component of hemolymph triggering release of the bacteria render this fascinating example of both a mutualistic symbiosis and disease transmission amenable to future genetic and molecular study. (+info)