New Entomopathogenic Nematode, Steinernema adamsi, Described

S. adamsi emerging from hostWe have characterized a new species of entomopathogenic nematode (EPN). This EPN was isolated from Thailand and falls within the Longicaudatum clade, being closely related to Steinernema hermaphroditum. The nematode was named after Dr. Byron Adams, who was Dr. Dillman’s undergraduate mentor and who introduced Dr. Dillman to EPNs in 2003. Steinernema adamsi is the newest EPN to be described and has much to teach us about how nematodes parasitize insects. It may also be useful in biological control. A UCR press release has additional information.

sPLA2 from S. carpocapsae modulates insect immunity

Sophia and Ogadinma led a research project which was just published illustrating that a secreted phospholipase A2 enzyme released from S. carpocapsae modulates insect immunity. The paper also included other members of the lab. This is the third individual protein from S. carpocapsae that we have shown to have immunogenic properties in insects. 

ShK-Domain-Containing Proteins Modulate Host Immunity

Parasitic nematodes release a wide variety of proteins into their hosts to manipulate host biology. One family of proteins that is released by Steinernema carpocapsae are the ShK-domain-containing proteins. It was previously not known how these proteins function during a nematode infection. Graduate student Aklima Lima reported that one of these proteins released from S. carpocapsae during infection modulates host immunity by decreasing host resistance to infection. In addition to evaluating how the protein affects fly survival, she also employed some behavioral assays to assess fly health in a more sensitive way. The results were published this week in Pathogens and represents the first published results from Aklima’s graduate work.

Microbiome and Efficacy of Phasmarhabditis to Control Slugs and Snails

Our lab has recently published three studies on the slug-parasitic nematode Phasmarhabditis californica. One study on the native microbiome of these nematodes and two studies on the efficacy of these nematodes against different snail pests; Succinea snails and Theba snails. Most of the work the lab has done on Phasmarhabditis nematodes was driven by Dr. Jake Schurkman, who recently graduated and Dr. Irma Tandingan De Ley, who recently retired. During his time in the lab, Jake was an author on 8 papers, most of which were focused on interactions between gastropods and parasitic nematodes. The species that he worked on, P. california, was discovered by Irma and several colleagues. That nematode is now being sold as a commercial biological control agent to kill slugs. At this point however, it is only available in Europe, not the US. Hopefully this becomes available in the US in the near future. 

Jake & Sophia Graduate

Sophia Parks and Jacob Schurkman were hooded in a graduation hooding ceremony over the weekend, completing their doctoral studies. Sophia is the 3rd graduate student to graduate from the Dillman lab and Jake is the 4th. Sophia started a postdoctoral position at Stanford in December and Jake begins a fulltime position at Maine Molecular Quality Controls later this year. Congratulations on their hard work and success!!