Effects of microbial and other antagonistic organism and competition on entomopathogenic nematodes

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90 Scopus citations


Antagonistic factors, broadly identified as antibiosis, competition and natural enemies, impact on entomopathogenic nematodes. Antibiosis can occur through the release of plant chemicals from the roots into the soil, which may adversely affect the host-finding behavior of the infective stage nematode, or the presence of these chemicals in the host insect may negatively affect nematode reproduction. In laboratory studies, intra-specific and inter-specific competition reduces nematode fitness, and inter-specific competition can cause local extinction of a nematode species. For example, after concomitant infection of a host, a steinernematid species usually excludes a heterorhabditid species. The mechanism for the steinernematid superiority has been postulated to be a bacteriocin(s) produced by Xenorhabdus, the symbiotic bacterium of the steinernematid, which prevents Photorhabdus, the symbiotic bacterium of the heterorhabditid, from multiplying. Inter-specific competition between two steinernematid species shows that both can co-exist in a host, but one species will eventually prevail in the environment. By having different foraging strategies, however, both steinermatid species may co-exist in the same habitat. An important issue is whether the introduction of an exotic entomopathogenic nematode species will competitively displace an indigenous nematode species. Although the environmental risks are small, the recommended policy is that the introduction of exotic nematodes be regulated. With other pathogens, entomopathogenic nematodes can out-compete entomopathogenic fungi, but not Bacillus thuringiensis, for the same host individual when both the nematode and entomopathogen are applied simultaneously. The best studied natural enemy is the nematophagous fungus, Hirsutella rhossiliensis, which causes higher mortality in Steinernema glaseri compared with Heterorhabditis bacteriophora. Differential susceptibility to the fungus may be associated with the retention of the second-stage cuticle by H. bacteriophora. Invertebrate predators including mites and collembolans feed on entomopathogenic nematodes. Although a number of studies have been conducted with antagonists, there is a dearth of field data. We suggest that long-term research plots be established where natural populations of entomopathogenic nematodes occur and include antagonists as a component of such studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-372
Number of pages16
JournalBiocontrol Science and Technology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Insect Science


  • Heterorhabditis
  • Steinernema
  • antibiosis
  • natural enemies
  • nematicidal
  • nematode parasites
  • nematode predators
  • nematophagous fungi
  • tritrophic interactions


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