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Welcome To Our Lab

The University of Florida Landscape Nematology Lab is the premier laboratory dedicated to diagnosis and management of plant-parasitic nematodes affecting turfgrasses and ornamental plants. Our goal is to provide the turfgrass and ornamental industries the information and technologies they need to minimize the harmful effects of nematodes in an effective, safe, and environmentally responsible manner.

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    Nematodes

    What Are They?

    Nematodes are the most abundant animals on earth, in fact 80% of all animals are nematodes! We are surrounded by them, but most people are not aware of nematodes or their importance. Different species of nematodes inhabit almost every environment from the Antarctic to the tropical rainforests, from the ocean depths, to the arid deserts, from the mountain peaks to deep underground. A typical handful of soil will contain thousands of nematodes carrying out a variety of functions. Most nematodes are microscopic although there are animal parasites that can get quite large.

    Nematode Microscopic view of nematodes extracted from soil and placed into water for identification and counting

    Nematodes compose the phylum Nemata, the unsegmented roundworms. Unlike earthworms, nematodes have bodies that are not divided into segments and they have a pseudocoelom instead of a true gut. Different nematodes have widely varying feeding habits, some feed and bacteria, others on fungi, some are predators on microscopic animals, and others are parasites of plants and animals. Most nematodes play vital roles in nature by helping break down organic matter and cycling nutrients. One nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, is the most extensively studied laboratory animal and is widely used by scientists in research on genetics, cell biology, developmental biology, and other branches of biology and medicine. Some nematodes are parasites or pathogen vectors of insects and are used for biological control of insect pests. Nematode parasites of humans and animals are of great concern in human and veterinary medicine.

    Plant-parasitic nematodes are nematodes that feed on plants. These nematodes cause billions of dollars in crop losses and billions more in management costs each year. The environment in Florida (warm climate, high rainfall, sandy soil) is especially conducive to many damaging nematodes making them particularly problematic in the sunshine state.

    Diagnosing Nematodes

    Plant-parasitic nematodes are difficult to diagnose because in most cases they are too small to be seen with the naked eye. In a nematode diagnostic lab nematodes are extracted from soil or plant tissue into water so that they can be identified and counted by trained nematologists using microscopes. The Landscape Nematology Lab is affiliated with the Florida Nematode Assay Lab and assist with diagnosis of nematode problems on turfgrasses and ornamental plants. For information on collecting and submitting plant and/or samples for nematode diagnosis go to the Nematode Assay Lab webpage.

    Managing Nematodes

    Nematode management strategies differ with different plants, different nematodes, and different situations. For current management recommendations on turfgrasses, ornamental plants, and residential gardens look for the relevant management guides below. For other crops contact the University of Florida Cooperative Extension office in your county, or go to the UF/IFAS EDIS Nematode Management Guide to look up information.

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    Florida Nematodes

    Below is a list of common plant-parasitic nematodes found in Florida and more detailed information about them from Featured Creatures, an extension outreach of the UF Entomology and Nematology Department. This is not an exhaustive list, many important nematodes are missing! We will continue to add to this list as we publish more Featured Creatures over time.

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