Bacteria used in the biological control of plant-parasitic nematodes: populations, mechanisms of action, and future prospects

FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2007 Aug;61(2):197-213. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6941.2007.00349.x.


As a group of important natural enemies of nematode pests, nematophagous bacteria exhibit diverse modes of action: these include parasitizing; producing toxins, antibiotics, or enzymes; competing for nutrients; inducing systemic resistance of plants; and promoting plant health. They act synergistically on nematodes through the direct suppression of nematodes, promoting plant growth, and facilitating the rhizosphere colonization and activity of microbial antagonists. This review details the nematophagous bacteria known to date, including parasitic bacteria, opportunistic parasitic bacteria, rhizobacteria, Cry protein-forming bacteria, endophytic bacteria and symbiotic bacteria. We focus on recent research developments concerning their pathogenic mechanisms at the biochemical and molecular levels. Increased understanding of the molecular basis of the various pathogenic mechanisms of the nematophagous bacteria could potentially enhance their value as effective biological control agents. We also review a number of molecular biological approaches currently used in the study of bacterial pathogenesis in nematodes. We discuss their merits, limitations and potential uses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / pathogenicity*
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena
  • Bacterial Toxins / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Nematoda / microbiology*
  • Pest Control, Biological*
  • Plants / parasitology*


  • Bacterial Toxins