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Trends in the evolution of insect parasitism by nematodes



Trends in the evolution of insect parasitism by nematodes



Phytopathology 91(6 Supplement): S172, June



The duration of insect parasitism by specific nematode groups can be established with fossils. Discoveries in amber show parasitism by Mermithidae in the Early Cretaceous, by Tetradonematidae, Sphaerulariidae and rhabditids in the Eocene and by Allantonematidae and Diplogasteridae in the mid-Tertiary. While there are no confirmed fossils of entomopathogenic nematodes, it is likely that their association with arthropods extended back to the Paleozoic. The evolutionary history of entomopathogenic nematodes is complicated since it involves the selection of a bacterium that can be utilized as a food source, the retention of that bacterium by the dauer and the ability to invade the arthropods body cavity. With the Heterorhabditidae, which appears to have evolved from a Pelliodites-like ancestor in an arenicolous marine habitat, parasitism initially may have involved littoral crustaceans as well as intertidal insects. Evolution of the Steinernematidae appears to have occurred in a completely terrestrial environment from an early member of the Rhabitophanes clade.

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