Application and commercialization of nematodes
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While nematodes are most commonly known for their negative impact on plants, animals, and humans, there are a number of species which are commercially explored. This review highlights some of the most important success stories for the application of nematodes. They are used as bioindicators in ecological and toxicity studies, as model organisms for elucidating fundamental biological questions and for high throughput screening of drugs. Besides these indirect uses, direct applications include the use of Beddingia siricidicola against a major forest pest and the commercialization of Steinernema, Heterorhabditis, and Phasmarhabditis as biological pest control products. New directions for the commercialization of nematodes are the use as living food, specifically loaded with essential nutrients for various fish and shrimp larvae. Even human parasites or closely related species have been successfully used for curing autoimmune disorders and are currently in the process of being developed as drugs. With the striving development of life sciences, we are likely to see more applications for nematodes in the future. A prerequisite is that we continue to explore the vast number of yet undiscovered nematode species.