Submitted to: Pest Management Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/29/2002
Publication Date: 5/27/2003
Citation: Chitwood, D.J. 2003. Research on plant-parasitic nematode biology conducted by the United States Department Of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. Pest Management Science. 59(6-7):748-753. Interpretive Summary: Plant-parasitic nematodes are microscopic soil worms that cause a $10 billion agricultural loss in the United States each year. Environmentally safe control methods for these losses are urgently needed. One approach for developing novel target-specific controls is by exploiting fundamental differences between the biological processes of nematodes and their host plants. This review article summarizes the research in this area being conducted by ARS scientists. Major research accomplishments include the discovery of genes likely to be involved in arresting the development of nematodes, the identification of molecules involved in the transmission of signals controlling nematode development and maturation of eggs, the disruption of nematode reproduction with inhibitors of nematode fat metabolism, the development of novel ways of identifying nematodes based on their anatomy and gene sequences, and the elucidation of how potato nematode populations change within fields in order to overcome resistance that some plant varieties possess. These efforts are important because they represent major discoveries that can lead to alternatives to conventional nematode control strategies. This review will be useful to scientists developing novel methods for nematode control; such research will eventually benefit the public by providing safer nematode control.
Technical Abstract: The recent deregistrations of several chemical nematicides and the impending loss of methyl bromide necessitate the development of new methods for controlling nematode-induced crop damage. One approach for developing novel target-specific controls is by exploiting fundamental differences between the biological processes of nematodes and their host plants. Researchers of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture are actively exploring these differences. Research accomplishments include the discovery of heat shock protein genes likely involved in developmental arrest of the soybean cyst nematode, the identification of neuropeptides and female-specific proteins in the soybean cyst nematode, the disruption of nematode reproduction with inhibitors of nematode sterol metabolism, the development of novel morphological and molecular (heat shock protein genes and the D3 segment of large subunit ribosomal DNA) features useful for nematode identification and classification, and the elucidation of the population genetics of potato cyst nematode pathotypes. In addition, several ARS researchers are investigating biological determinants of nematode response to management strategies utilized in agricultural fields. These collective efforts should lead to new chemical and nonchemical alternatives to conventional nematode control strategies.