Root-feeding nematodes are major soil-borne pests in agriculture. In natural ecosystems, their abundance can be strongly controlled by natural enemies. In coastal foredune soil, the abundance of the ectoparasitic nematode Tylenchorhynchus ventralis is controlled by local interactions with soil microorganisms. If not controlled, T. ventralis reduces growth and performance of the host plant Ammophila arenaria. In the present study, we examine if the nematodes may sense the presence of soil microorganisms and, if so, they are able to actively avoid their enemies. First, using Petri dishes with agar medium we examined if T. ventralis can choose between A. arenaria seedlings inoculated with or without soil microorganisms. We observed that there was a trend (although non-significant) in nematode migration towards the non-inoculated plants. If the seedlings were not present, the nematodes did not make any choice and stayed in the centre of the Petri dish. Then, using Y-tubes filled with sterilized dune soil, we examined if T. ventralis could choose between A. arenaria roots with or without microorganisms. We also included treatments of microbial suspensions without plants and a microbe-free filtrate. We observed that the nematodes preferred roots without microorganisms. Microorganisms alone or roots with microbial filtrate did not influence nematode choice significantly. We conclude that the nematode T. ventralis is able to choose roots without soil microorganisms when having roots with them as alternative. Such avoidance could explain why biological control of nematodes in field is not always effective, especially when microbial antagonists accumulate in specific parts of the rhizosphere.
Piśkiewicz, A. M., de Milliano, M. J. K., Duyts, H., & Van der Putten, W. H. (2009). Plant ectoparasitic nematodes prefer roots without their microbial enemies. Plant and Soil, 316(1-2), 277-284. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-008-9779-x