Putative Feeding

The feeding habits of nematodes are based on direct observation, feeding structures, intestinal content, stomal attributes, esophageal/pharyngeal structure and feeding behavior.  In some cases. The feeding habits are relatively certain. For example, most nematodes with a large stomatostyle and tylenchid esophagus probably feed on.higher plants. However, those with a delicate, finer stylet may be fungus feeders, or perhaps designated as root associates feeding on plant and/or fungal structures that can be accessed with a delicate stylet. Nematodes that feed on bacteria may be observed ingesting bacteria-laden suspensions on an agar plate, but is that all that they are ingesting?  What about dissolved nutrients or particulate matter in the ingested suspension?  In the case of nematodes that are parasites of animals, the ingestion of blood or tissues can be inferred by observation and damage to the host.  However, some nematode associates of arthropods are assumed to have necronemic behavior. They may or may not accelerate the death of the host but actually feed on bacteria that are exploiting the decaying tissues.  The feeding habits or freshwater and marine nematodes may be inferred from plankton or algae in the intestine contents but many may be direct parasites or fish and marine invertebrates,  So, there are many uncertainties in feeding habits and, in the Nemaplex tables, no attempt had been made to define the actual food of marine, freshwater or animal-parasitic nematodes.

Otherwise, the definitions proposed by Yeates et al (1993) are generally followed in Nemaplex except where more recent information has emerged.


Yeates, G.W., Bongers, T., De Goede, R.G.M., Freckman, D.W., Georgieva, S.S., 1993. Feeding habits in soil nematode families and genera — an outline for soil ecologists. J. Nematol. 25:315–331.

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