Applied Biotechnology in Nematology

E. P. Caswell-Chen, V. M. Williamson, B. B. Westerdahl


During the past two decades, rapid advances in biotechnology and molecular biology have affected the understanding and treatment of human and plant diseases. The human and Caenorhabditis elegans genome-sequencing projects promise further techniques and results useful to applied nematology. Of course, biotechnology is not a panacea for nematological problems, but it provides many powerful tools that have potential use in applied biology and nematode management. The tools will facilitate research on a range of previously intractable problems in nematology, from identification of species and pathotypes to the development of resistant cultivars that have been inaccessible because of technical limitations. However, to those unfamiliar or not directly involved with the new technologies and their extensive terminology, the benefits of the advances in biotechnology may not be readily discerned. The sustainable agriculture of the future will require ecology-based management, and successful integrated nematode management will depend on combinations of control tactics to reduce nematode numbers. In this review we discuss how biotechnology may influence nematode management, define terminology relative to potential applications, and present current and future avenues of research in applied nematology, including species identification, race and pathotype identification, development of resistant cultivars, definition of nematode-host interactions, nematode population dynamics, establishment of optimal rotations, the ecology of biological control and development of useful biological control agents, and the design of novel nematicides. Key words: agriculture, applied biotechnology, biological control, biotechnology, identification, management, molecular biology, nematode.

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