Plant-parasitic nematodes are devastating pathogens of many important agricultural crops. They have been successful in large part due to their ability to modify host plant metabolomes to their benefit. Both root-knot and cyst nematodes are endoparasites that have co-evolved to modify host plants to create sophisticated feeding cells and suppress plant defenses. In contrast, the ability of migratory ectoparasitic nematodes to modify host plants is unknown. Based on global metabolomic profiling of sting nematodes in African bermudagrass, ectoparasites can modify the global metabolome of host plants. Specifically, sting nematodes suppress amino acids in susceptible cultivars. Upregulation of compounds linked to plant defense have negative impacts on sting nematode population densities. Pipecolic acid, linked to systemic acquired resistance induction, seems to play a large role in protecting tolerant cultivars from sting nematode feeding and could be targeted in breeding programs.

Scientific Reports