The positive influence of bacterial feeding nematodes on bacterial mediated processes such as organic matter mineralization and nutrient cycling is widely accepted, but the mechanisms of these interactions are not always apparent. Both transport of bacteria by nematodes, and nutritional effects caused by nematode N excretion are thought to be involved, but their relative importance is not known because of the difficulties in studying these interactions in soil. We developed a simple in vitro assay to study complex nematode/bacterial interactions and used it to conduct a series of experiments to determine the potential influence of nematode movement and nutritional effects on bacterial resource use. The system used bacterial feeding and nonfeeding insect parasitic nematodes, and luminescent bacteria marked with metabolic reporter genes. Both nutritional enhancement of bacterial activity and bacterial transport were observed and we hypothesize that in nature, the relative importance of transport is likely to be greater in bulk soil, whereas nematode excretion may have greater impact in the rhizosphere. In both cases, the ability of nematodes to enhance bacterial resource utilization has implications for soil components of biogeochemical cycling.
- FEEDING NEMATODES
- POSITIVE FEEDBACK