Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/4/2001
Publication Date: 2/15/2004
Citation: Robinson, A.F. 2004. Nematode behavior and migrations through soil and host tissue. In: Chen, Z.X., Chen, S.Y., Dickson, D.W., editors. Nematology - Advances and Perspectives. Beijing, China: Tsinghua University Press. p. 380-405.
Interpretive Summary: There are many kinds of microscopic worms called nematodes that feed on the roots of cotton and other crops, debilitating the plants and markedly decreasing yields. The direct losses to U.S. cotton farmers caused by nematodes were estimated by the National Cotton Council in 1999 to exceed $300 million. Information on isolated aspects of the behavior of these animals is available only in scattered books and reports. This publication is an invited book chapter with 381 references from the scientific literature which brings together and summarizes everything known about how these tiny worms find their way through soil and host tissues. The book is entitled Nematology, Advances and Perspectives and is published by an international organization in Chicago called the Association of Chinese Scientists and Engineers. The chapter will serve as a valuable reference on the fundamental biology of nematodes and will guide future research on interference with nematode behavior as a way to control the nematodes that parasitize cotton and other crop plants, as well as animals and insects.
Technical Abstract: Over 500 research papers on nematode behavior have been published. The major topics during the last 40 years have been root finding by plant parasites in the soil, host foraging by entomopathogenic nematodes, migrations through host tissues, pheromones, attraction to nematophagous fungi, responses to light, temperature and carbon dioxide, and the behavioral genetics and neurophysiolgy of the model nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans. Numerous additional accounts are available on feeding, defecation, copulation, hatching, host penetration, nictating, jumping, swimming, predation, and attraction or repulsion by various physical and chemical stimuli. Research on nematode behavior has tended to focus on responses within two dimensions on agar surfaces where nematodes are constrained to lie on their sides and has largely ignored movement in a three-dimensional context. Particularly noteworthy conceptual developments include the recognition of water potential and soi crumb size as key factors limiting nematode movement through soil, the possibility that a small number of fixed action patterns properly tuned to primary physical and chemical constraints and signals may suffice to guide movement through seemingly complex environments, and the notion that a similar repertoire of basic types of activity may be shared but regulated differently among ecologically diverse nematode groups.