Chemosensory cues are crucial for entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs)—a guild of insect-killing parasitic nematodes that are used as biological control agents against a variety of agricultural pests. Dispersal is an essential element of the EPN life cycle in which newly developed infective juveniles (IJs) emerge and migrate away from a resource-depleted insect cadaver in order to search for new hosts. Emergence and dispersal are complex processes that involve biotic and abiotic factors, however, the elements that result in EPN dispersal behaviors have not been well-studied. Prenol is a simple isoprenoid and a natural alcohol found in association with EPN-infected, resource-depleted insect cadavers, and this odorant has been speculated to play a role in dispersal behavior in EPNs. This hypothesis was tested by evaluating the behavioral responses of five different species of EPNs to prenol both as a distal-chemotactic cue and as a dispersal cue. The results indicate that prenol acted as a repulsive agent for all five species tested, while only two species responded to prenol as a dispersal cue.
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