Entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs) have been a useful model for studying wound healing in insects due to their natural mechanism of entering an insect host either through the cuticle or an orifice. While many experiments have shed light on nematode and host behavior, as well as the host immune response, details regarding early nematode entry and proliferative events have been limited. Using high-resolution microscopy, we provide data on the early infection kinetics of Heterorhabditis bacteriophora
and its symbiotic bacteria, Photorhabdus luminescens
. EPNs appendage themselves to the host and enter through the host cuticle with a drill-like mechanism while leaving their outer sheath behind. EPNs immediately release their symbiotic bacteria in the host which leads to changes in host behavior and septicemia within 6 h while EPNs travel through the host in a predictable manner, congregating in the anterior end of the host. This paper sheds light on the entry and proliferative events of EPN infection, which will further aid in our understanding of wound healing and host immune activation at a high spatiotemporal resolution.
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