Genetic Improvement of Entomopathogenic Nematodes for Insect Biocontrol

  • Christopher W. Brey
  • Sarwar Hashmi


Entomopathogenic nematodes (families Heterorhabditidae and Steinernematidae) are the most important biological-control agents for soil-dwelling insect pests (Gaugler and Kaya, 1990). Several species of Heterorhabditids and Steinernematids are produced commercially and used as biotic insecticides. Their unique association with symbiotic bacteria (Xenorhabdus for Steinernematidae and Photorhabdus for Heterorhabditidae) enables them to rival the efficacy of chemical insecticides. Other key attributes include mass production, broad host range, and capacity to kill a host within 1 to 4 days. Furthermore, entomopathogenic nematodes are not pathogenic to plants or mammals, and have therefore been exempt from government regulation and registration requirements (Kaya and Gaugler, 1993). Nevertheless, there are ongoing efforts to improve entomopathogenic nematode beneficial traits or eliminate weaknesses by means of genetic manipulation in the areas of increased environmental tolerance, target specificity, enhanced host finding, mass production (Bedding, 1984), and increased storage-life (Burnell and Dowds,1996). Strain improvement using selection (screening a natural population), selective breeding, hybridization, and mutagenesis has been successful in many entomopathogenic nematode laboratories worldwide. Also, genetic engineering has shown some success, but it has not been widely utilized in strain improvement programs.


Caenorhabditis Elegans Heat Tolerance Parasitic Nematode Selective Breeding Entomopathogenic Nematode 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher W. Brey
    • 1
  • Sarwar Hashmi
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of EntomologyRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA
  2. 2.Lindsley F. Kimble Research InstituteNew York Blood CenterNew YorkUSA

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