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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Bacteria
Phylum: Proteobacteria
Class: Gammaproteobacteria
Order: Enterobacteriales
Family: Enterobacteriaceae
Genus: Xenorhabdus
Thomas & Poinar, 1979

Xenorhabdus beddingii
Xenorhabdus bovienii
Xenorhabdus budapestensis
Xenorhabdus cabanillasii
Xenorhabdus doucetiae
Xenorhabdus ehlersii
Xenorhabdus griffiniae
Xenorhabdus hominickii
Xenorhabdus indica
Xenorhabdus innexi
Xenorhabdus ishibashii
Xenorhabdus japonica
Xenorhabdus khoisanae
Xenorhabdus koppenhoeferi
Xenorhabdus kozodoii
Xenorhabdus magdalenensis
Xenorhabdus mauleonii
Xenorhabdus miraniensis
Xenorhabdus nematophila
Xenorhabdus poinarii
Xenorhabdus romanii
Xenorhabdus stockiae
Xenorhabdus szentirmaii
Xenorhabdus vietnamensis

Xenorhabdus is a genus of motile, gram-negative bacteria from the family of the Enterobacteriaceae. It has the particularity that all the species of the genus live in symbiosis with soil entomopathogenic nematodes from the genus Steinernema.[1]

Although no free-living forms of Xenorhabdus have ever been isolated outside of the nematode host, the benefits for the bacteria are still unknown. However, it has been demonstrated that the nematode can't establish within his insect host without the bacteria.[2]

The tripartite Xenorhabdus-nematode-insect interaction represents a model system in which both mutualistic and pathogenic processes can be studied in a single bacterial species. In laboratory, some species are virulent directly injected within the insect host, whereas others species need the nematode to penetrate into the insect.[2]


  1. In the non-infestant-stage nematode living in the soil, Xenorhabdus spp. are carried in a specialized region of the intestine, termed the receptacle.
  2. At the third-stage of development, the infective juvenile (IJs) invade the hemocoel of susceptible insect hosts.
  3. The bacteria are released in the insect hemocoel, where they overcome the insect's defense systems and produce numerous virulence factors such as hemolysin and cytotoxin. They participate in suppressing insect immunity and killing the host.
  4. The bacteria proliferate to high levels in the insect cadaver and produce diverse antimicrobial compounds that suppress the growth of antagonistic microorganisms. Xenorhabdus spp. also secrete an array of exoenzymes that stimulate macromolecular degradation, the products of which, together with the bacteria themselves, are thought to provide a nutrient base for nematode growth and reproduction.
  5. When nematode numbers become high and nutrients become limiting in the insect cadaver, nematode progeny re-associate with bacteria and differentiate into colonized, non-feeding IJs that emerge into the soil to forage for new hosts.


Biological pest control[edit]

The mutualistic association between Xenorhabdus and Steinernema represent an insectidical complex, active against a large range of insect pests. Indeed, the complex is used in biological pest control, and is very efficient against insects such as Spodoptera exigua (Lepidoptera), Cydia pomonella (Lepidoptera), Leptinotarsa decemlineata (Coleoptera), Tipulidae family (Diptera). Xenorhabdus nematofila is the most used species in biological control, in association with Steinernema carpocapse and Steinernema feltiae.

The pathogenicity of the complex is "species-specific", which means that the complex can only be active against a specific range of insects.

The Steinernema-Xenorhabdus association is currently sold as biocontrol agent by private companies, like Biobest, SUMI AGRO, and Biosafe.


A study carried out by Furgani G. & Al[3] suggests that the antibiotic compounds produced by Xenorhabdus to preserve the insect cadaver from others bacteria may be used in the aim of controlling mastitis caused by bacteria. Indeed, Xenorhabdus budapestensis, X. szentirmaii and X. nematofila appear to be efficient against pathogens such as Staphylocuccus aureus and Escherichia coli.


As of this edit, this article uses content from "The Entomopathogenic Bacterial Endosymbionts Xenorhabdus and Photorhabdus: Convergent Lifestyles from Divergent Genomes", which is licensed in a way that permits reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License, but not under the GFDL. All relevant terms must be followed.

  1. ^ John M. Chaston; Garret Suen; Sarah L. Tucker; Aaron W. Andersen; Archna Bhasin; Edna Bode; Helge B. Bode; Alexander O. Brachmann; et al. (2011-11-18). "The Entomopathogenic Bacterial Endosymbionts Xenorhabdus and Photorhabdus: Convergent Lifestyles from Divergent Genomes". PLoS ONE. 6 (11): e27909. PMC 3220699Freely accessible. PMID 22125637. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0027909. Retrieved 2011-11-27. 
  2. ^ a b Gaudriault S., Ogier J.C.; Pagès S.; Bisch G.; Chiapello H.; Médigue C.; Rouy Z.; Teyssier C.; Vincent S.; Tailliez P.; Guivaudan A. (2014-07-25). "Attenued Virulence And Genomic Reductive Evolution In The Entomopathogenic Bacterial Symbiont Species, Xenorhabdus poinarii". Genome Biology and Evolution. 6 (6): 1495–1513. PMC 4079199Freely accessible. PMID 24904010. doi:10.1093/gbe/evu119. Retrieved 2014-05-30. 
  3. ^ Wolf S.L., Furgani G.; Böszörményi E.; Fodor A.; Máthé-Fodor A.; Forst S.; Hogan J.S.; Katona Z.; Klein M.G.; Stackebrandt E.; Szentirmai A.; Sztaricskai F. (2007-08-25). "Xenorhabdus Antibiotics: a comparative analysis and potential utility for controlling mastisis caused by bacteria". Journal of Applied Microbiology. 104 (2008): 745–758. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2672.2007.03613.x. Retrieved 2007-03-10. 


  • Goodrich-Blair H. & Clarke D.J. (2007). Mutualism and pathogenesis in Xenorhabdus and Photorhabdus: two roads for the same destination. Molecular Microbiology (2007) 64(2), 260-268. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2007.05671.x
  • Sicard M. & Al (2004). When mutualists are pathogens: an experimental study of the symbioses between Steinernema (entomopathogenic nematodes) and Xenorhabdus (bacteria). Genome Biology And Evolution 17(2004)985-993. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2004.00748.x
  • Pilar F. & Al (2006). Phylogenetic relationships of Bacteria with special reference to endosymbionts and enteric species. The Prokaryotes, pp 41–59.

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