Root Biology pp 221-237 | Cite as

Biological Control of Root-Knot and Cyst Nematodes Using Nematophagous Fungi

  • Geeta Saxena
Part of the Soil Biology book series (SOILBIOL, volume 52)


Plant-parasitic nematodes like root-knot and cyst nematodes are global pests of agricultural and horticultural crops, causing severe yield losses. The penetration of plant roots by juveniles of root-knot nematodes particularly Meloidogyne incognita leads to a surge in physiological and physical changes which results in the formation of giant cells and galls in the root. Nematophagous fungi are widespread in soil. Nematophagous fungi are natural antagonists of nematodes and are considered potential biological control agents of nematodes. They are environmentally beneficial and inexpensive alternatives to nematicides. They have the capacity to capture prey or parasitize and kill nematodes at all stages of their life cycle like eggs, juvenile females and cysts. They fall in four categories: (1) nematode-trapping or predatory fungi which kill the nematodes by producing either adhesive or non-adhesive trapping devices. They possess comparatively good saprophytic ability. Adhesive devices such as hyphae, branches, knobs and nets are coated with adhesive which firmly hold the nematode leading to penetration and colonization by the fungi. Non-adhesive trapping devices are constricting and non-constricting rings. (2) Endoparasitic fungi use adhesive or palatable conidia to enter the nematode body. They are obligate parasites, grow at the expense of body content and finally kill the nematode. Members of Chytridiomycota and Oomycota produce uni- and biflagellate zoospores respectively, to parasitize the nematodes. (3) Parasites of cyst and root-knot nematodes utilize females or eggs as food source, colonizing by the growth of somatic hyphae and causing enzymatic dissolution of egg shell and larval cuticle. These fungi are involved in the degradation of cysts in soil over time. They clearly have the capacity to regulate its host population in soil. (4) Toxin-producing fungi immobilize nematodes by secreting toxins. Most studied potential biological control agents of nematodes are Arthrobotrys oligospora, Pochonia chlamydosporia (syn. Verticillium chlamydosporium), Purpureocillium lilacinum (syn. Paecilomyces lilacinus) and Oomycete Nematophthora gynophila.


Nematophagous fungi Biological control Arthrobotrys oligospora Pochonia chlamydosporia Meloidogyne Heterodera 



The author is thankful to her family members for constant encouragement and support throughout the preparation of this chapter.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geeta Saxena
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Botany, Swami Shraddhanand CollegeUniversity of DelhiDelhiIndia

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