Hirsutella rhossiliensis and H. minnesotensis are endoparasitic fungi of the second-stage juvenile (J2) of the soybean cyst nematode (Heterodera glycines) in nature. They also parasitize both H. glycines J2 and Caenorhabditis elegans on agar plates. Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated transformation conditions were established for these Hirsutella spp. The resulting transformants were similar to the corresponding wild-type strains. The infection processes of H. glycines J2 and C. elegans second larval stage (L2) by H. minnesotensis expressing ZsGreen were microscopically analyzed. Conidia of H. minnesotensis adhered to passing nematodes within 8 h post-inoculation (hpi), formed an infection peg between 8 and 12 hpi, and penetrated the nematode cuticle between 12 and 24 hpi for C. elegans L2 and between 12 and 32 hpi for H. glycines J2. Hyphal proliferation inside of the nematode coelom was observed at approximately 32 hpi for C. elegans L2 and at approximately 40 hpi for H. glycines J2. The fungus consumed the whole body and grew out to produce conidia at approximately 156 and 204 hpi for C. elegans L2 and H. glycines J2, respectively. The efficient transformation protocol and a better understanding of infection process provide a solid foundation for studying the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying fungal parasitism of nematodes.
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