Biocontrol: Fungi as Nematode Control Agents

R. Mankau


The fungal antagonists of nematodes consist of a great variety of organisms belonging to widely divergent orders and families of fungi. They include the nematode-trapping fungi, endoparasitic fungi, parasites of nematode eggs and cysts, and fungi which produce metabolites toxic to nematodes. The diversity, adaptations, and distribution of nematode-destroying fungi and taxonomic problems encountered in their study are reviewed. The importance of nemato-phagous fungi in soil biology, with special emphasis on their relationship to populations of plant-parasitic nematodes, is considered. While predacious fungi have long been investigated as possible biocontrol agents and have often exhibited spectacular results in vitro, their performance in field studies has generated little enthusiasm among nematologists. To date no species has demonstrated control of any plant pest to a degree achieved with nematicides, but recent studies have provided a much clearer concept of possibilities and problems in the applied use of fungal antagonists. The discovery of new species, which appear to control certain pests effectively under specific conditions, holds out some promise that fungi may be utilized as alternatives to chemical control after a more thorough and expanded study of their biology and ecology. Key Words: Nematode-trapping fungi, nematode-destroying fungi, nematode egg parasites, nematode antagonists, nematode parasites, nematophagous fungi.

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