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Open Access Research article

Effect of the bacterium Serratia marcescens SCBI on the longevity and reproduction of the nematode Caenorhabditis briggsae KT0001

Jeremiah D Lancaster, Budour Mohammad and Eyualem Abebe*

Author Affiliations

Department of Biology and Marine Environmental Science, Elizabeth City State University, Weeksville Road, Elizabeth City, NC 27909, USA

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BMC Research Notes 2012, 5:688  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-688

Published: 20 December 2012



Extensive research effort has advanced our understanding of Caenorhabditis as a model system, but its natural association with bacteria remains to be explored in an ecological context. Explored associations vary vastly from mutualistic to parasitic. Serratia marcescens has been shown to be pathogenic to Caenorhabditis with a fitness cost. The recent isolation of an entomopathogenic Caenorhabditis briggsae KT0001/S. marcescens SCBI association from the wild has allowed us to examine under laboratory conditions whether such an association poses a serious cost to Caenorhabditis as previously surmised for other Serratia.


A fecundity table of Caenorhabditis briggsae KT0001 fed on S. marcescens SCBI and the control fed on E. coli OP50 is presented. We found no significant difference in survivorship or total fecundity between the S. marcescens SCBI fed and E. coli OP50 fed Caenorhabditis briggsae KT0001. Only the mean onset of reproduction was significantly different between the two groups with E. coli fed C. briggsae maturing earlier (2.12 days) than those fed on Serratia (2.42 days).


S. marcescens SCBI is not highly pathogenic to C. briggsae KT0001 indicating that the entomopathogenicity reported for this association may be beneficial for both the nematode and bacteria. In light of the fact that hitherto conducted experimental tests conform to widely held view that Serratia are highly pathogenic to Caenorhabditis, the absence of a high fitness cost for C. briggsae we report here may indicate that this entomopathogenic association is non-transient suggesting nematode/bacterial associations in the wild may vary greatly. Consequently, broad generalizations about nematode/bacterial associations should be interpreted with care.

Caenorhabditis briggsae; Serratia; Symbiosis; Fitness; Nematode-bacterial associations