Nematology: Current Research and Extension Priorities; 1997

Nematodes and Nematology

Nematodes are invertebrate roundworms that inhabit marine, 
freshwater, and terrestrial environments. They include parasites 
of plants, animals and humans. Many species feed on microbes and 
some on other nematodes. The Science of Nematology has 
disciplinary groupings, including Parasitology, Helminthology and 
Plant Nematology. The common linkage across these groupings is the 


The Situation

The negative and positive impacts of nematodes on the 
environment, on plants, on animals, and on humans often require 
management.  The sustainability of our biosphere depends on the 
development of management strategies that are environmentally 
benign and economically feasible.

The Opportunities

There are important research directions and developments:
  • **Attraction, repulsion, sensory confusion and life-cycle 
    disruption of nematodes through natural products chemistry.
  • **Immunization of animal, human and plant systems against nematode 
    **Nematode population regulation through biological control.
  • **Host germplasm that is resistant or tolerant to parasitic species 
    provides genetic sources for transgenic approaches to 
    protection of plants and animals
  • **Innovations in ecosystem design that result in temporal and 
    spatial rearrangement of host and parasite species.
  • **New drug sources through plant products used in homeopathic 
    medicine and untapped plant products.
  • **The use of nematodes as bioindicators, for bioremediation of 
    degraded soils, and for biocontrol of insects.
These approaches offer challenges, including their target-specific 
nature and the need for rapid and reliable diagnostic tools. The 
commonalities of priority and endeavor across nematode groups and 
component disciplines are evident.

The Constraints in Plant Nematology

A crisis is developing as the need for research, education and 
outreach in Plant Nematology increases while support for these 
activities decreases. There is an enlarging gap between what 
society needs and what scientists can supply.

Needed Action

Research and education units in Nematology require 
strengthening and support to allow replacement of outdated 
technology with opportunities offered through modern research.  The 
situation is critical - the needs and opportunities are now.  This 
is an integral component of our world leadership to ensure a 
sustainable biosphere.
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