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Research article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

Molecular Identification and Phylogenetic Diversity of Native Entomopathogenic Nematodes, and Their Bacterial Endosymbionts, Isolated from Banana and Plantain Crops in Western Colombia

Londono-Caicedo, Jorge Mario; Uribe-Londono, Miguel; Buitrago-Bitar, Maria Angelica; Cortes, Andres J.; Munoz-Florez, Jaime Eduardo


With the increasing negative impacts on worldwide food production caused by pests, the recovery of native entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs) is relevant, since they are adapted to local environments, entomofauna, and significant virulence. Therefore, the present study was designed to recover and understand the phylogenetic diversity of EPNs and their associated bacterial endosymbionts, from banana and plantain crops, as alternatives for the control of weevil species. An extensive sampling of western Colombia covered 325 ha, yielding the recovery of three EPNs' isolates (0.49% of the samples). The molecular characterization included four mitochondrial and nuclear loci, which, after merging with the sequences of 48 species, confirmed the presence of Steinernema carpocapsae, the first report of S. costaricense in South America, and monophyly in most of the Steinernema clades. The tree topologies were consistent for the nuclear loci but not for mitochondrial, probably due to the high nucleotide substitution rate, deficit in the number of species available for these loci, and incomplete lineage sorting. The endosymbiotic bacteria associated with S. carpocapsae were identified as Xenorhabdus nematophila. However, the S. costaricense bacterial symbiont presented a genetic similarity to X. koppenhoeferi and X. khoisanae, which are still uncertain in their classification. The identification of S. costaricense in South America indicates the wide range distribution of this species in the Americas and its ability to persist in different soil types. For the first time, EPN isolation and phylogenetic characterization are directed to plantain and banana crops. Leveraging EPNs' diversity promises novel applications for crop protection, while the genetic resources from the bacterial endosymbionts may provide metabolites with a wide spectrum of uses, either for agricultural or medicinal purposes.


biological control agents; endosymbiotic bacteria; integrated pest management; weevil species

Published in

2023, Volume: 13, number: 5, article number: 1373
Publisher: MDPI

      SLU Authors

    Associated SLU-program

    SLU Plant Protection Network

    Sustainable Development Goals

    End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Agricultural Science
    Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

    Publication identifier


    Permanent link to this page (URI)