Evidence that nematodes may vector the soft rot-causing enterobacterial phytopathogens

J. Nykyri, X. Fang, F. Dorati, R. Bakr, M. Pasanen, O. Niemi, E. T. Palva, R. W. Jackson, M. Pirhonen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Bacterial soft rot is a globally significant plant disease that causes major losses in the production of many popular crops, such as potato. Little is known about the dispersal and ecology of soft-rot enterobacteria, and few animals have been identified as vectors for these pathogens. This study investigates whether soil-living and bacterial-feeding nematodes could act as vectors for the dispersal of soft-rot enterobacteria to plants. Soft-rot enterobacteria associated with nematodes were quantified and visualized through bacterial enumeration, GFP-tagging, and confocal and electron scanning microscopy. Soft-rot enterobacteria were able to withstand nematode grazing, colonize the gut of Caenorhabditis elegans and subsequently disperse to plant material while remaining virulent. Two nematode species were also isolated from a rotten potato sample obtained from a potato storage facility in Finland. Furthermore, one of these isolates (Pristionchus sp. FIN-1) was shown to be able to disperse soft-rot enterobacteria to plant material. The interaction of nematodes and soft-rot enterobacteria seems to be more mutualistic rather than pathogenic, but more research is needed to explain how soft-rot enterobacteria remain viable inside nematodes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)747-757
Number of pages11
JournalPlant Pathology
Issue number4
Early online date16 Dec 2013
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014


  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • Dispersion of bacterial soft rot
  • Mutualism
  • Pectobacterium
  • Pristionchus
  • Rhabditidae

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science
  • Horticulture


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