Intraguild predation between Pristionchus pacificus and Caenorhabditis elegans: a complex interaction with the potential for aggressive behaviour

J Neurogenet. 2020 Sep-Dec;34(3-4):404-419. doi: 10.1080/01677063.2020.1833004. Epub 2020 Oct 15.


The related nematodes Pristionchus pacificus and Caenorhabditis elegans both eat bacteria for nutrition and are therefore competitors when they exploit the same bacterial resource. In addition to competing with each other, P. pacificus is a predator of C. elegans larval prey. These two relationships together form intraguild predation, which is the killing and sometimes eating of potential competitors. In killing C. elegans, the intraguild predator P. pacificus may achieve dual benefits of immediate nutrition and reduced competition for bacteria. Recent studies of P. pacificus have characterized many aspects of its predatory biting behaviour as well as underlying molecular and genetic mechanisms. However, little has been explored regarding the potentially competitive aspect of P. pacificus biting C. elegans. Moreover, aggression may also be implicated if P. pacificus intentionally bites C. elegans with the goal of reducing competition for bacteria. The aim of this review is to broadly outline how aggression, predation, and intraguild predation relate to each other, as well as how these concepts may be applied to future studies of P. pacificus in its interactions with C. elegans.

Keywords: Intraguild predation; aggression; competition; nematode.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aggression / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Bacteria
  • Bites and Stings
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / growth & development
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology
  • Competitive Behavior / physiology
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Larva
  • Mammals / physiology
  • Mouth / anatomy & histology
  • Nematoda / anatomy & histology
  • Nematoda / physiology*
  • Predatory Behavior / physiology*
  • Species Specificity