Family Stilbonematidae

Revised 01/17/22








Stilbonematdae described as subfamily Stilbonematinae of the Desmodoridae by Chitwood, 1936. Not clear when (or if) it became a family.

   A small family of free-living marine nematodes.

Associated with, and feeding on,  dense coatings of sulfur-oxidizing chemoautotrophic bacteria with which they are apparently obligately symbiotic. The nematodes inhabit environments with low oxygen availability and reducing conditions.

Nematodes in the family Stilbonematidae (or subfamily Stilbonematinae) associate with gammaproteobacteria that grow as a lawn on the cuticle of the nematode. These sulfur-fixing bacteria are a major food source for the nematode. Essentially, the nematodes ‘farm’ their bacterial associates by migrating to ocean sediments rich in hydrogen sulfide (Bulgheresi Reference Bulgheresi2011; Murfin et al. Reference Murfin, Dillman, Foster, Bulgheresi, Slatko, Sternberg and Goodrich-Blair2012; Blaxter and Koutsovoulos, 2015).


Armenteros, M., Ruiz-Abierno, A., Decraemer, W. 2014. Taxonomy of Stilbonematinae (Nematoda: Desmodoridae): description of two new and three known species and phylogenetic relationships within the family. Zool; J. of the Linnean Soc. 171-1-21.

Blaxter, M. and Koutsovoulos, G. 2015. The evolution of parasitism in Nematoda. Parasitology 142: S26–S39.

Bulgheresi, S. (2011). Calling the roll on Laxus oneistus immune defense molecules. Symbiosis 55, 127135.

Chitwood, B.G. 1936. Some marine nematodes from North Carolina. Proc. Helmint. Soc. Wash. 3: 1-16.

Murfin, K. E., Dillman, A. R., Foster, J. M., Bulgheresi, S., Slatko, B. E., Sternberg, P. W. and Goodrich-Blair, H. (2012). Nematode-bacterium symbioses – cooperation and conflict revealed in the “omics” age. Biological Bulletin 223, 85102.


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