Development of cost-effective media for the in vitro liquid culture of entomopathogenic nematodes

In: Nematology
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  • 1 Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology, Faculty of AgriSciences, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag X1, Matieland 7602, Stellenbosch, South Africa
  • | 2 Department of Chemical Engineering, National Institute of Technology Karnataka Surathkal, Mangalore, Karnataka 575 025, India
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Entomopathogenic nematodes (EPN) are successful biological control agents of a variety of soilborne insect pests. They have the potential to be mass-produced, using in vitro liquid culture technology, and can be formulated and sold as a biopesticide. To commercialise an EPN-based biopesticide successfully, the method of liquid mass production requires in-depth optimisation to reduce the cost of production and to increase yields, to make it affordable to the farming community. This study attempted to optimise the liquid culture protocol for the South African isolates, Steinernema jeffreyense and S. yirgalemense, by investigating the impact of cheaper medium ingredients on the recovery and yield of the liquid culture process. Studies were conducted by investigating alternative protein, lipid and nitrogen/yeast sources, compared to the more expensive laboratory-grade ingredients currently used. The results showed that egg yolk has no impact on the yield in the case of S. jeffreyense. However, for S. yirgalemense, egg yolk was shown to be a superior protein source to soy and insect-based protein in terms of nematode yield. Moreover, neither canola oil nor olive oil showed a significant difference in the yield of S. yirgalemense, with yeast extract being found to be the optimal nitrogen/yeast source. When comparing the yields with those in other liquid culture research on S. yirgalemense, yields have been successfully increased by 300%, with the cost of the nematode nutrient medium having decreased by 77%. Thus, it is imperative that, prior to a scale up to large bioreactors, the nutrient medium should be optimised to reduce the cost of production.

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