Effects of Earthworms on the Dispersal of Steinernema spp.

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Shapiro, D. I.
Tylka, G. L.
Berry, E. C.
Lewis, L. C.
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Tylka, Gregory
Morrill Professor
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Plant Pathology and Microbiology
The Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology and the Department of Entomology officially merged as of September 1, 2022. The new department is known as the Department of Plant Pathology, Entomology, and Microbiology (PPEM). The overall mission of the Department is to benefit society through research, teaching, and extension activities that improve pest management and prevent disease. Collectively, the Department consists of about 100 faculty, staff, and students who are engaged in research, teaching, and extension activities that are central to the mission of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The Department possesses state-of-the-art research and teaching facilities in the Advanced Research and Teaching Building and in Science II. In addition, research and extension activities are performed off-campus at the Field Extension Education Laboratory, the Horticulture Station, the Agriculture Engineering/Agronomy Farm, and several Research and Demonstration Farms located around the state. Furthermore, the Department houses the Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic, the Iowa Soybean Research Center, the Insect Zoo, and BugGuide. Several USDA-ARS scientists are also affiliated with the Department.
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The Department of Entomology seeks to teach the study of insects, their life-cycles, and the practicalities in dealing with them, for use in the fields of business, industry, education, and public health. The study of entomology can be applied towards evolution and ecological sciences, and insects’ relationships with other organisms & humans, or towards an agricultural or horticultural focus, focusing more on pest-control and management.

The Department of Entomology was founded in 1975 as a result of the division of the Department of Zoology and Entomology.

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Previous studies indicated that dispersal of S. carpocapsae may be enhanced in soil with earthworms. The objective of this research was to determine and compare the effects of earthworms on dispersal of other Steinernema spp. Vertical dispersal of Steinernema carpocapsae, S. feltiae, and S. glaseri was tested in soil columns in the presence and absence of earthworms (Lumbricus terrestris). Dispersal was evaluated by a bioassay and by direct extraction of nematodes from soil. Upward dispersal of S. carpocapsae and S. feltiae increased in the presence of earthworms, whereas upward dispersal of S. glaseri was not affected by earthworms. No significant differences were detected in downward dispersal of S. carpocapsae and S. feltiae in soil with earthworms compared to soil without earthworms. Downward dispersal of S. glaseri, however, was greater in soil without earthworms relative to soil with earthworms. In soil void of earthworms, dispersal of S. glaseri was greatest followed by dispersal of S. carpocapsae. The presence of earthworm burrows in soil did not influence nematode dispersal. Nematodes were recovered from the surface, interior, and casts of earthworms. Therefore, nematodes may have a phoretic association with earthworms.


This article is published as Shapiro, D. I., G. L. Tylka, E. C. Berry, and L. C. Lewis. "Effects of Earthworms on the Dispersal of Steinernema spp." Journal of Nematology 27, no. 1: 21-28.