Nematodes and Their Management

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Plant parasitic nematodes are microscopic roundworms which live in the soil and attack the roots of plants. Crop production problems induced by nematodes therefore generally occur as a result of root dysfunction, reducing rooting volume and foraging and utilization efficiency of water and nutrients. Many different genera and species of nematodes can be important to crop production in Florida. In many cases a mixed community of plant parasitic nematodes is present in a field, rather than having a single species occurring alone. In general, the most widespread and economically important nematode species include the root-knot nematode, Meloidogyne spp., and sting nematode, Belonolaimus longicaudatus. The host range of these nematodes, as with others, includes most if not all of the commercially grown vegetables within the state. Yield reductions can be extensive but vary significantly between plant and nematode species. In addition to the direct crop damage caused by nematodes, many of these species predispose plants to infection by fungal or bacterial pathogens or transmit virus diseases, which contributes to additional yield reductions.

J.W. Noling
University of Florida, IFAS Extension