Nematodes that live in the soil and feed on bacteria and fungi are referred to as "free-living." These nematodes are beneficial and play an important role in recycling plant nutrients. The bacteria and fungi that decompose organic matter utilize the released nutrients to grow and multiply, thus making them unavailable to plants. Free-living nematodes feed on these microbes and release nutrients back to the soil in their excretory products. Free-living nematodes are considered essential components of healthy soil ecosystems.
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