GABA Immunoreactivity and Pharmacological Effects vary Among Stylet-Bearing Nematodes

Hannah M. Reed, Ziduan Han, Nathan E. Schroeder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Plant-parasitic nematodes conduct a series of sophisticated behaviors to complete their life cycles. Among these, locomotion behaviors, including finding the host and migrating to the feeding site, directly affect the success of parasitism. Thus, disrupting locomotion behaviors has the potential to control these parasites. γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the prominent inhibitory neurotransmitter in nematodes. GABA-immunoreactive neurons are mostly found in motor neurons, where they regulate behaviors in the model nematode C. elegans. However, the GABA system in most stylet-bearing nematodes has received little attention. Using immunohistochemistry, we found variation in the pattern of GABA-immunoreactivity among two major plant-parasites and a fungal feeder. Some of these GABA-immunoreactive neurons lack clear homologs to C. elegans. Pharmaceutical assays showed that applying GABA, its agonist, and its antagonist, can disrupt the locomotion behaviors of these nematodes, although sensitivity to a given compound varied between species. Our data suggest that the GABA system is a potential target for the control of plant-parasitic nematodes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberjofnem-2023-0049
JournalJournal of Nematology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023


  • antibody staining
  • behavior
  • nematode control
  • neural anatomy
  • plant-parasitic nematode

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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