Understanding Soil Nematodes

Nematodes are microscopic, worm-like organisms with over 4,000 species known to be parasitic to plants. There are also beneficial nematodes that feed on bacteria and fungi the soil. Parasitic nematodes typically feed on the exterior (ectoparasites) or interior (endoparasites) of plant roots. Crop damage typically results from root damage from feeding and the reallocation of resources from plant tissues to the nematode. In addition, nematodes can also provide openings for other pathogens to enter and cause disease. Early detection and preventative management are the cornerstones to limit the spread of nematodes and to reduce the economic losses caused by nematode infestations.