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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Entomopathogenic Nematodes

Author
item Shapiro Ilan, David

Submitted to: Encyclopedia of Entomology
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: April 9, 2003
Publication Date: April 1, 2004
Citation: Shapiro Ilan, D.I. 2004. Entomopathogenic nematodes. Encyclopedia of Entomology. p.781-784.

Interpretive Summary: Entomopathogenic nematodes are small round worms that are used as environmentally friendly insecticides. The nematodes occur naturally and are found in soil of every continent except Antarctica. The nematodes kill insects with the help of bacteria that are carried in the nematode's intestine. The nematodes can be mass-produced on insects or on artificial media using fermentation techniques. The effectiveness of nematode applications for pest suppression depends on the kind of nematode used, the pest that is targeted, and various environmental factors (temperature, moisture, etc.). Dozens of important insect pests have been controlled using entomopathogenic nematodes.

Technical Abstract: Entomopathogenic nematodes (genera Heterorhabditis, Steinernema, and Neosteinernema) are used as bioinsecticides. The nematodes are ubiquitous and have been isolated in soil of every continent except Antarctica. The nematodes kill insects through a mutualism with a bacterium (Photorhabdus spp. or Xenorhabdus spp.) that are carried in the nematode's intestine. The nematodes can be mass-produced in vivo or in vitro. The efficacy of nematode applications for pest suppression depends on nematode and host species, and various abiotic factors (temperature, moisture, etc.). Nematode efficacy can be enhanced through strain discovery, or genetic improvement. Dozens of important insect pests have been controlled using entomopathogenic nematodes.

Last Modified: 8/22/2014