Entomopathogenic nematode Steinernema carpocapsae surpasses the cellular immune responses of the hispid beetle, Octodonta nipae (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae).
The Nipa palm hispid, Octodonta nipae (Maulik) is an important invasive pest of palm trees particularly in Southern China. How this beetle interacts with invading pathogens via its immune system remains to be dissected. Steinernema carpocapsae is a pathogenic nematode that attacks a number of insects of economic importance. The present study systematically investigates the cellular immune responses of O. nipae against S. carpocapsae infection using combined immunological, biochemical and transcriptomics approaches. Our data reveal that S. carpocapsae efficiently resists being encapsulated and melanized within the host's hemolymph and most of the nematodes were observed moving freely in the hemolymph even at 24 h post incubation. Consistently, isolated cuticles from the parasite also withstand encapsulation by the O. nipae hemocytes at all-time points. However, significant encapsulation and melanization of the isolated cuticles were recorded following heat treatment of the cuticles. The host's phenoloxidase activity was found to be slightly suppressed due to S. carpocapsae infection. Furthermore, the expression levels of some antimicrobial peptide (AMP) genes were significantly up-regulated in the S. carpocapsae-challenged O. nipae. Taken together, our data suggest that S. carpocapsae modulates and surpasses the O. nipae immune responses and hence can serve as an excellent biological control agent of the pest.