Xenorhabdus nematophila is the symbiotic bacterium of an entomopathogenic nematode, Steinernema carpocapsae. When the nematode enters a target insect, the symbiotic bacteria are released into the hemocoel. After inducing host immunosuppression, the bacteria multiply in the hemocoel and cause fatal septicemia. For optimal field application to control insect pests, culturing mass numbers of the nematodes would be costly. In this study, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) was chosen as an alternative natural vector, which would be relatively economical for field application. Bt infection of gut epithelium would form a bacterial passage between the gut lumen and hemocoel, which facilitates the orally fed X. nematophila to infect the hemocoel. Diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella (L.) (Lepidoptera: Plutellidae), used in this study was tolerant to Bt because only 10% mortality was noted in response to 2 times higher concentration than recommended for commercial B. t. kurstaki, although this species was susceptible only during early instars. The orally fed X. nematophila caused significant mortality to early instars of P. xylostella, but not late instars. When both X. nematophila and Bt were fed to late instars of P. xylostella, they showed significantly enhanced mortality, in which X. nematophila cells were recovered from the hemocoel of the treated P. xylostella. However, when only X. nematophila was fed, no cells were recovered from the hemolymph. This study suggests that X. nematophila can be applied to control P. xylostella in a mixture with Bt in the field without its nematode host.
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Vol. 100 • No. 1