V. G. Perry, G.
C. Smart, Jr., and K. B. Nguyen
Department of Entomology and Nematology
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences University of Florida Gainesville. Florida
V. G. Perry G. C. Smart, Jr. K. B. Nguyen
This resume will deal with
the development of the science of nematology as recognized today. For the
most part the information was gained from experiment station records of
the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station. The developments in parasitology
as pertains to the nematode parasites of vertebrates will not be included.
The Florida Agricultural Experiment Station was established In March, 1888, and located at Lake City, about 35 miles north of Gainesville. In 1906 it was moved to Gainesville, and entomological and nematological investigations were begun by Dr. J. C. Neal, a man who was trained in medicine. Dr. Neal should be considered the first chairman of our department.
Early records indicate that during the period following the U. S. Civil War of the 1860's, a relatively large peach growing industry existed in North Florida. It is apparent that root-knot nematodes were taking their toll, and one can easily reach a conclusion that the peach industry suffered considerable losses to such an extent that the industry declined to almost nothing. In fact, we were unable to profitably grow peaches commercially until the resistant Okinawa rootstock was introduced.
In 1888, Dr. Neal published an excellent discussion of the affects of root-knot nematodes (known thev as Heterodera radicicola, now Meloidogyne sp.) on peaches (Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Bull. 2 pp. 19-21). This may be the first use of the term "root-knot." Dr. Neal described the above ground and root symptoms almost exactly as we would today, but he provided little information about the parasite. He did try various control measures, including applications of carbon bisulfide, chloride of lime, and of all things, table salt (NaCl). Other hosts, including grass, tomato and beans were named, but another nematode, Anguillula radicicola Greef, was believed to be involved.
In 1889, Dr. Neal published the classic paper on root-knot: "The Root-Knot Disease of Peach, Orange and Other Plants In Florida, Due to the work of Anguillula" (U. S. Dept. Agr., Div. Entomol. Bull. 20). Numerous hosts were listed for Florida. Of special interest is his description of root-knot on peanuts, which he attributed to Anguillula arenaria. This paper is well known and is listed, along with the 1889 paper by Atkinson, as a first contribution on root-knot from the United States. Neal soon left the Florida Experiment Station, and much of that work on root-knot was discontinued. In 1894, Dr. P. H. Rolfs wrote an account of root-knot on tobacco seedlings and illustrated the symptoms. Dr. H. Harold Hume prepared a list of plants affected by root-knot in 1901.
The U. S. Department of Agriculture has also investigated the nematodes in Florida. Dr. N. A. Cobb reported in 1914 that the citrus nematode occurred in Florida; Dr. L. P. Byars reported this nematode from three locations in 1921 ; Dr. E. A. Bessey Included some results from Florida in his 1911 U. S. Dep. Agr. Bur. Plant Industry Bull. 217, "Root-Knot and its Control," and in 1924, Dr. G. H. Godfrey published his Florida results, "The Depth and Distribution of the Root-Knot Nematode in Florida soils" (J. Agr. Res. 29:93-98).
About 1915, Dr. J. R.
Watson began a rather long-term study of root-knot in Florida, especially
control which lasted until his death in 1946. Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Bull.
125, pp. 62-64, has a section on "Root-knot on Tomato and Its Control,"
by Dr. Watson in 1915. He found that the commercial product "cysnamidl"
provided some measure of control as did calcium cyanamide, sodium cyanide,
and mixtures of the latter with ammonium sulfate; he advocated rotations
of susceptible crops with resistant plants such as velvet beans, Crotalaria
spp., iron cowpea, etc.; he first reported his work with organic mulches
for the control of root-knot In 1938; he also become active in breeding
for resistance to root-knot; and in 1944, Dr. Watson first reported on
the use of D-D soil fumigant in Florida (several workers reported on the
use of D-D3 in 1944) . Dr. Watson's co-workers included Mr. H. E. Bratley
and C. C. Goff.
Dr. A. N. Brooks, plant pathologist at the Strawberry Investigations Laboratory at Plant City, also contributed to the development of nematology in Florida. His first report in 1927 pertained to root-knot on strawberry. In 1929 he began work with "strawberry crimp" and in 1930, he reported data showing that Aphelenchoides fragariae caused this disease. In 1931, Dr. Brooks published Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Bull. 235, "Crimp - a Nematode Disease of Strawberry." Some scattered references to crimp were made later, and in 1947, Dr. Brooks reported on finding root-lesion nematodes on strawberry. In 1948-49 he became interested in the possibility that sting nematodes caused a disease of strawberry and was instrumental in getting Dr. J. R. Christie, USDA Nematologist, to investigate the strawberry problems.
From 1934 to 1936, Dr. G. R. Townsend, plant pathologist at the Everglades Experiment Station, Belle Glade, did considerable research on temperature relationships of root-knot. In 1937 he published Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Bull. 309: "Development of the Root-Knot Nematode on Beans as Affected by Soil Temperature."
A very significant symposium entitled, "Nematode Control under Florida Conditions" was held, at the 1942 meeting of the Soil Science Society of Florida (now the Soil and Crop Science Society of Florida). Unfortunately, the proceedings were not published until 1949, but most of the papers were updated to 1949. Dr. G. Steiner was the banquet speaker and at the symposium, presented his outstanding paper, "Plant Nematodes the Grower Should Know." This society has periodically sponsored other symposia on plant nematology.
In 1936, the Division of Nematology, USDA, opened the Nematotogy Field Laboratory at Tifton, Georgia, with Mr. A. L. Taylor in charge. Mr. Taylor made several trips into Florida (until he resigned in 1945) and reported the finding of numerous plant nematodes.
The soil fumigants D-D and EDB were introduced to the market in 1945, and revolutionized nematode control. They also provided research and extension workers with tools to demonstrate the extent of nematode damage to crop plants, and for the first time, growers were made aware of the terrific crop losses due to nematodes in Florida.
In 1948, the USDA, Division of Nematology, transferred Dr. J. R. Christie to the Central Florida Experiment Station at Sanford, Florida, where he initiated a nematode research laboratory in cooperation with the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station. In 1949 V. G. Perry was named as an assistant to Dr. Christie. They began to study host-parasite relationships, especially pathogenicity, of various nematodes prevalent in Florida soils. Their work, establishing for the first time the pathogenicity of ectoparasitic nematodes (Belonolaimus, Dolichodorus, and Trichodorus), received worldwide attention. Nematologists from many parts of the world visited Sanford from 1950-63 to observe damage caused by ectoparasites. Many unanswered questions were solved and nematology was at last placed on a firm footing in Florida. The nematode problems of turf grasses were first investigated in 1953, leading to routine nematicide treatments on golf courses and lawns.
Meanwhile, Dr. R. F. Suit
had joined the Citrus Experiment Station faculty in 1945 for the express
purpose of investigating the cause or causes of spreading decline of citrus.
In 1953, Dr. Suit and Dr. E. P. Ducharme announced that the burrowing
nematode, Radopholus similis, incites the spreading decline
disease of citrus. There followed an almost immediate increase in nematological
interest and activity. What was then the State Plant Board (now Division
of Plant Industry, Fla. State Dep. Agr.) created a new position and hired
and later Mr. R.
P. Esser and Dr. L. G. VanWeerdt.
The Florida Agricultural Experiment Station then invited Dr. J. R. Christie to accept its first position for a research nematologist, which he did in January 1954 until 1960. Dr. A. C. Tarjan, in 1955, occupied the second nematology position in Florida at the Citrus Experiment Station, Lake Alfred.
Teaching of nematology per se was begun in 1954 by Dr. G. F. Weber in the Plant Pathology Department, University of Florida, College of Agriculture. Later a teaching position was created in the Entomology Department with the purpose of developing a major graduate program. Dr. V. G. Perry occupied this position beginning in January 1959.
No historical account of nematode would be complete without mention of Mrs. Amegda Overman, who began her work at the Gulf Coast Experiment Station, Bradenton, in 1951 as a soil microbiologist (then Miss Amegda Jack).
From 1960-68, extension nematology was a joint effort between the Department of Entomology and of Plant Pathology. Dr. R. S. Mullin, Plant Pathologist, received all samples, processed for nematode removal, and handled all correspondence, and the nematologists identified the nematodes. In 1968, an extension nematology position was created, Dr. C. W. Laughlin was employed, and all extension nematology duties were transferred to him. A year later Dr. D. W. Dickson was employed as extension nematologist when Laughlin resigned to accept a position at Michigan State University. This position was taken by Dr. R. A. Dunn in 1975. Dr. G. C. Smart, Jr. took a position of research and teaching in Gainesville, 1964.
In 1969, the University of Florida had eight full-time nematologists and several support personnel. Other faculty cooperated in nematology projects. The Division of Plant industry had four nematologists located in Gainesville, and many of their personnel were engaged in surveys, inspections, and other types of regulatory activities concerned with nematodes. The USDA moved its nematology laboratory from Sanford to Orlando, and Dr. Julius Feldmesser replaced Dr. Christie in 1954, and he was in turn replaced by Dr. J. H. 0'Bannon. In addition to these governmental agencies, several commercial companies, private consultants, pesticide contractors, etc., are now active in Florida.
Dr. G. C. Smart and Dr. K. B. Nguyen, Entomology & Nematology Department, have worked with entomopathogenic nematodes since 1983. They described several species of insect parasitic nematodes. One of these, Steinernema scapterisci Nguyen & Smart, 1990, has been commercialized for mole cricket control in Florida and other southern states of the US.
Finally, we think that the
proper stature of nematology within the University of Florida was indicated
by the name change of the Entomology Department to the Entomology and Nematology
Department in 1969. In 1970, Dr. V. G. Perry was named Assistant Chairman
of this department. The following table shows the location of nematologists
of the University of Florida, when the position was created, its duties,
and who has held and currently holds the position.
Bradenton 1951 Research Mrs. Amegda J. Overman (1951-)
Gainesville 1954 Research J. R.Christie (1954-1960)
Gainesville 1954 Research & teaching A. A. Di Edwardo (1960-1964)
Lake Alfred 1955 Research A. C. Tarjan (1955-)
Lake Alfred 1956 Research I Hannon (resigned 1965)
Sanford 1959 Research H. L. Rhoades (1959-)
Gainesville 1959 Research & teaching V. G. Perry
Belle Glade 1961 Research J. A Winchester (1961-1969)
Gainesville 1963 Research (grant) W. T. Calaway (1973-1971)
Gainesville 1964 Research & teaching G. C. Smart, Jr (1964-2003)
Gainesville 1968 Extension C. W. Laughlin (1968-1969)
Gainesville 1968 Extension D. W. Dickson (1970-1974)
Gainesville 1974 Research & teaching D. W. Dickson (1974-)
Gainesville 1975 Extension R. A. Dunn (1975-2000)
Jay 1968 Research R. A. Kinloch (1968-2001)
Live Oak 1974 Research J. R. Rich
Homestead 1978 Research R. McSorley
Gainesville 1981 Research K. B. . Nguyen
Fort Lauderdale 1985 Research R. M. Giblin-Davis
Lake Alfred 1984 Research L. W. Duncan
Lake Alfred 1985 Extension J. W Noling
Gainesville 2000 Research & teaching B. J Adams (2000-2003)
Gainesville 2000 Extension W. T. Crow
Books by University of Florida Nematologists
J. R. Christie. 1959. Plant Nematodes, Their Bion0mics and Control.
Agr. Exp. Sta., Univ. Fla.. Gainesville.
A. C . Tarjan . 1960. Check List of Plant and Soil Nematodes , A Nomenclatorial Compilation. Univ. Fla. Press, Gainesville.
A. C. Tarjan. 1967. Supplement (1951-1965) to the Check List of Plant and Soil Nematodes, A Nomenclatorial Compilation. Univ. Fla. Press, Gainesville.
G. C. Smart, Jr. and V. G. Perry (ed.). 1968. Tropical Nematology. Univ. Fla. Press, Gainesville.
Updated on September 2013