Superparasitism and Population Regulation of the Mosquito-Parasitic Mermithid Nematodes Romanomermis iyengari and Strelkovimermis spiculatus


Share / Export Citation / Email / Print / Text size:

Journal of Nematology

Society of Nematologists

Subject: Life Sciences


ISSN: 0022-300X
eISSN: 2640-396X





Volume / Issue / page

Related articles

VOLUME 49 , ISSUE 3 (September 2017) > List of articles

Superparasitism and Population Regulation of the Mosquito-Parasitic Mermithid Nematodes Romanomermis iyengari and Strelkovimermis spiculatus


Keywords : heart rate, host selection, population regulation, Romanomermis iyengari, Strelkovimermis spiculatus, superparasitism

Citation Information : Journal of Nematology. Volume 49, Issue 3, Pages 316-320, DOI:

License : (CC BY 4.0)

Received Date : 10-April-2017 / Published Online: 05-December-2017



Superparasitism is a common phenomenon in mosquito-parasitic mermithid nematodes. Multiple nematodes are needed in a single host to produce males. Host selection behavior and intraspecific competition among Romanomermis iyengari and Strelkovimermis spiculatus were investigated against their host, Culex pipiens pipiens in laboratory experiments. In a choice assay between previously infected and uninfected host larvae, infectious preparasites of both nematode species could distinguish not only between infected and uninfected hosts, but even between different parasite loads in showing a strong preference for uninfected hosts or hosts with a low parasite load. Host heart rate declined briefly immediately after parasitism. Superparasitism resulted in increased parasite mortality. Scramble competition within mosquito larvae for limited host nutrients, coupled with a skewed sex ratio favoring males, is assumed to lead to parasite population decline and subsequently toward host-parasite population equilibrium. The ability of mermithid preparasites to accurately assess parasite load likely plays an important role in host population dynamics and regulation.

Content not available PDF Share



Abagli, A. Z., Alavo, T. C., and Platzer, E. G. 2012. Efficacy of the insect parasitic nematode, Romanomermis iyengari, for malaria vector control in Benin, West Africa. Malaria Journal 11:5.


Achinelly, M. F., and Micieli, M. V. 2009. Experimental releases of Strelkovimermis spiculatus (Nematoda: Mermithidae) against three mosquito species in Argentina. Nematology 11:151–154.


Alavo, T. B., Abagli, A. Z., Perez-Pacheco, R., and Platzer, E. G. 2015. Large scale production of the malaria vector biocontrol agent Romanomermisiyengari (Nematoda: Mermithidae) in Benin, West Africa. MalariaWorld Journal 6:1–5.


Camino, N. B., and Reboredo, G. R. 2000. Infectividad de Strelkovimermis spiculatus (Nematoda:Mermithidae) en Culex pipiens (Diptera: Culicidae). Iheringia. Serie Zoologia 88:147–150.


Dong, L., Sanad, M., Wang, Y., Xu, Y., Shamseldean, M. S. M., and Gaugler, R. 2014. Mating clusters in the mosquito parasitic nematode, Strelkovimermis spiculatus. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology 117:19–25.


Hassell, M. P., and May, R. M. 1974. Aggregation of predators and insect parasites and its effect on stability. Journal of Animal Ecology 43:567–594.


Lanciani, C. A. 1975. Parasite-induced alternations in host reproduction and survival. Ecology 56:689–695.


May, R. M. 1977. Dynamical aspects of host-parasite associations: Crofton’s model revisited. Parasitology 75:259–276.


Micieli, M. V., Risso, P., Achinelly, M. F., de los Milagros Villar, M., and Muttis, E. 2012. Population dynamics between the mermithid Strelkovimermis spiculatus (Nematoda: Mermithidae) and the floodwater mosquito Ochlerotatus albifasciatus (Diptera: Culicidae) over time. Biological Control 61:55–63.


Perez-Pacheco, R., Rodrıguez-Hernandez, C., Lara-Reyna, J., Montes-Belmont, R., and Ruiz-Vega, J. 2005. Control of the mosquito Anopheles pseudopunctipennis (Diptera: Culicidae) with Romanomermis iyengari (Nematoda: Mermithidae) in Oaxaca, Mexico. Biological Control 32:137–142.


Petersen, J. J. 1972. Factor affecting sex ratios of a mermithid parasite of mosquitoes. Journal of Nematology 4:83–87.


Petersen, J. J. 1975. Penetration and development of the mermithid nematode Reesimermis nielseni in eighteen species of mosquitoes. Journal of Nematology 7:207–210.


Petersen, J. J. 1980. Mass production of the mosquito parasite Romanomermis culicivorax effect of density. Journal of Nematology 12:45–48.


Petersen, J. J. 1985. Nematodes as biological control agents: Part I. Mermithidae. Advanced Parasitology 24:307–344.


Platzer, E. G. 2007. Mermithid nematodes. Pp. 58–64 in T. G. Floore, ed. Biorational control of mosquitoes. Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association (Suppl. 2), Bulletin No. 7.


Poinar, G. O., Jr., and Camino, N. B. 1986. Strelkovimermis spiculatus n. sp. (Mermithidae: Nematoda) parasitizing Aedes albifasciatus Mac. (Culicidae: Diptera) in Argentina. Journal of Nematology 18:317–319.


Sanad, M., Shamseldean, M. M., Elgindi, A. Y., and Gaugler, R. 2013. Host penetration and emergence patterns of the mosquito-parasitic mermithids Romanomermis iyengari and Strelkovimermis spiculatus (Nematoda: Mermithidae). Journal of Nematology 45:30–37.


Shamseldean, M. M., and Platzer, E. G. 1989. Romanomermis culicivorax: penetration of larval mosquitoes. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology 54:191–199.


Shamseldean, M., Platzer, E., and Gaugler, R. 2006. Ultrastructure of the cellular immune responses of Anopheles quadrimaculatus to Romanomermis culicivorax infection. Nematropica 36:243–249.


Shamseldean, M. M., Platzer, E. G., and Gaugler, R. 2007. Role of the surface coat of Romanomermis culicivorax in immune evasion. Nematology 9:17–24.


Taylor, A. D. 1988. Parasitoid competition and the dynamics of hostparasitoid models. American Naturalist 132:417–436.


Tingley, G. A., and Anderson, R. M. 1986. Environmental sex determination and density-dependent population regulation in the entomogenous nematode Romanomermis culicivorax. Parasitology 92: 432–449.


van Alphen, J., and Visser, M. E. 1990. Superparasitism as an adaptive strategy for insect parasitoids. Annual Revew of Entomology 35:59–79.


Walker, I. 1967. Effect of population density on the viability and fecundity in Nasonia vitripennisWalker (Hymenoptera, Pteromalidae). Ecology 48:294–301.


Wang, Y., Lutfi, Z., Dong, L., Suman, D., Sanad, M., and Gaugler, R. 2012. Host cues induced egg hatching and pre-parasitic foraging behavior in the mosquito parasitic nematode, Strelkovimermis spiculatus. International Journal of Parasitology 42:881–886.


Welch, H. E. 1964. Romanomermis iyengari n. sp. Pilot Register of Zoology Card No. 4.