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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • J. Nykyri
  • X. Fang
  • F. Dorati
  • R. Bakr
  • M. Pasanen
  • O. Niemi
  • E. T. Palva
  • M. Pirhonen

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University of Helsinki
  • University of Reading
  • Menoufiya University
  • School of Biological Sciences


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
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014


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