We used entomopathogenic nematodes as a model to address the issue of environmental impact of introduced biological control agents in the soil. The study was conducted during three field seasons (1997, 1998, and 1999) in no-till and conventional-till corn near Goldsboro, North Carolina. The main objective was to evaluate the interaction of two endemic nematodes, Steinernema carpocapsae and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora, and an introduced exotic nematode, Steinernema riobrave (Texas). Two baiting methods with Galleria mellonella were used to evaluate the nematodes with regard to infected insects and nematode persistence when alone or in cohabitation in the field. We also examined the effects of soil depth on the nematodes' interactions, infectivity, and persistence. The results of the two baiting methods generally agreed with each other. The detection of H. bacteriophora was significantly suppressed in the presence of S. riobrave and slightly more so in conventional-till than in no-till. However, this endemic nematode was not completely displaced 1 and 2 years after the introduction of S. riobrave. Detection of S. carpocapsae and S. riobrave was not affected by the presence of each other, and detection of S. riobrave was not affected by the presence of H. bacteriophora. H. bacteriophora had the strongest tendency to be detected deeper in the soil profile, followed by S. riobrave and then S. carpocapsae. The nematodes' differences in environmental tolerances, differences in tendencies to disperse deeper in the soil profile, and patchy distributions may help explain their coexistence.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Agronomy and Crop Science
- Insect Science