We studied variation in isozyme patterns of 8 metabolic enzymes in 5 species of Heterorhabditis (H. bacteriophora, H. indica, H. marelata, H. megidis, and H. zealandica) comprising 18 isolates. Isozyme banding patterns of all the 8 enzymes were species specific; however, 3 enzymes, i.e., arginine kinase, fumarate hydratase, and malate dehydrogenase, displayed distinct patterns among all the 18 isolates. Phylogenetic analysis of the isozyme patterns produced dendrograms depicting a high degree of genetic variation among Heterorhabditis species, with the average pairwise distance of 0.2000. Trees constructed using different phylogenetic methods showed a relatively close genetic relationship between H. megidis and H. zealandica and between H. bacteriophora and H. indica. Also, H. bacteriophora HP88 was the most distant species from H. megidis (UK isolate), H. marelatus (Oregon isolate), and H. zealandica (X1 isolate) with pairwise distance of 0.1957, 0.2228, and 0.2120, respectively. Phylogenetic analysis also revealed genetic variation among H. bacteriophora isolates with the average pairwise distance of 0.1507. GPS2 and GPS3 were the most closely related isolates with the average distance of only 0.0870, followed by GPS1 and GPS2 with average distance of 0.1087. In contrast, KMD19 and HP88, OH25, and HP88, and OH25 and Acows isolates were the most divergent populations with a pairwise distance of 0.2011 and 37 character differences. Pairwise distance analysis also revealed that genetic divergence among populations of H. bacteriophora is relatively independent of geographic distance. Overall, these results demonstrate strong subspecies structuring in H. bacteriophora.

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