International Centre for Physical Land Resources
Nematodes are a group of predominantly microscopic worms occurring in great numbers in all habitats; most are freeliving while others are parasitic. Animal parasitic nematodes are primarily studied in veterinary science and are not treated further here. Plant parasitic nematodes are of major importance to agriculture in general, and to tropical agriculture in particular. Insect parasitic nematodes are now being applied as effective biocontrol agents, and we can expect a further expansion of research into these organisms. Through sheer numbers, freeliving nematodes affect a wide range of cycling and decomposition processes in nature, both in soils and in freshwater or marine sediments. The advanced studies in Nematology programme includes training and research on the morphology, systematics and biology of plant parasitic, insect parasitic and freeliving nematodes. Emphasis is placed on the acquisition of microscopy techniques and accurate identification skills, aided by the availability of a virtually complete taxonomic library. The main purpose is to provide each student with the expertise required for conducting independent research in his or her home country. Crop protection is given major attention, but other topics covered include environmental issues such as soil management (residues, groundwater), use of nematodes as bio-indicators for pollution of e.g. industrialised coastal areas, and development of tropical ecosystems (e.g. mangroves). A third aspect covered in particular are the latest techniques being developed for control of nematode pests, such as genetic manipulation.