Course Introduction

Rev.  10/28/13

Nematology 100 - General Plant Nematology

Course alias: Biology, Ecology and Management of Plant and Soil Nematodes


Howard Ferris
259G Robbins Hall


Key Personnel

Liang Zheng and Xuyun Wang
259N Robbins Hall
Liang and Xuyun will help with preparation of materials for labs and general logistics


Dr. Becky B. Westerdahl
Hutchison Hall
Dr. Westerdahl, Extension Nematologist is the anxious recipient of the "Dear Becky" letter and will participate in the class field trip if time avails.

Scope of Course:

  • Plant-parasitic and other soil nematodes
  • Nematode biology and ecology
  • Effects on plants
  • Ecosystem Stewardship and Management.
  • Soil biology and ecology.
  • Principles of pest management
  • Sustainable production systems


  1. Midterm, 25%
  2. Faunal Analysis Project, 5%
  3. Term project, 20%
  4. Lifetime Nematode List, 5%
  5. Final, 45%
Course Philosophy and Approach:

We will examine the diversity and biology of soil nematodes and their ecological functions and services.  We will study in some detail the biology of nematode taxa that are parasites of plants, particularly from the standpoint of their damage potential and opportunities for management.  As we observe specimens of each group, we will consider all components of the soil ecosystem and the effects of stewardship and disturbance.  We will study the functional roles and bioindicator potential of the myriad soil organisms, including predator nematodes and those that feed on bacteria and fungi.  The overall objectives are to develop an appreciation of the biology and ecology of plant and soil nematodes and of the challenges of, and opportunities for, sustainable management of the soil ecosystem in agricultural production systems.


  • course outline, will modify if necessary
  • learn and consider the biology
  • consider the advantage of structures - ask why?
  • consider the relationship between form and function
  • lab sessions support lectures - live specimens, slides, videos
  • discussion, computer aided identification/recognition.


Web-based tutorial

Field Trip

October 13:  San Joaquin, Solano, Yolo counties

Term project

(handout and discussion in lab)

Lab project - Faunal Analysis

progressive through quarter

Lifetime Nematode List

keep track of the nematodes you have seen

Introduction to the Department

Two in U.C. - elsewhere in Plant Pathology and Entomology

Supporting and subsequent courses

Nematology Teaching program arranged in 2-unit modules at the graduate level, generally offered in alternate years:

  • NEM201. Molecular and Physiological Plant Nematology - Winter Quarter, Dr. Williamson.
  • NEM203. Ecology of Plant-parasitic Nematodes - Spring Quarter, Dr. Caswell-Chen.
  • NEM204. Management of Plant-parasitic Nematodes - Spring Quarter, Dr. Westerdahl.
  • NEM205. Insect Nematology and Biological Control Fall Quarter, Dr. Lewis.
  • NEM206. Nematode Systematics and Evolution - Fall Quarter, Dr. Nadler.
  • NEM210. Molecular Phylogenetic Analysis - Fall Quarter, Drs. Nadler and Sanderson.
  • NEM245. Field Nematology (joint with UC Riverside) - Spring/Summer, Dr. McKenry.
  • NEM290. Seminar.
  • Supporting resources:

  • Dropkin, 1988. Introduction to Plant Nematology
  • Ayoub, 1981. Plant Nematology - an agricultural training aid

  • Mai and Mullin, 1996. Plant-Parasitic Nematodes: A Pictorial Key to Genera.

  • Anderson and Mulvey, 1979. Plant-parasitic Nematodes in Canada

  • Zuckerman, Mai and Krusberg, 1990. Plant Nematology Laboratory Manual

  • Lee, D.L. (ed).2002. The Biology of Nematodes

  • Luc, M. R.A. Sikora and J. Bridge (eds). 2005. Plant parasitic nematodes in subtropical and tropical agriculture (2nd edition). Wallingford, Oxon, UK : C.A.B. International Institute of Parasitology.

  • Evans,K.,  D.L. Trudgill and J.M. Webster (eds). 1993. Plant parasitic nematodes in temperate agriculture. Wallingford : CAB International

  • Weischer, B. and D.J.F. Brown. 2000. An Iintroduction to Nematodes. Plant nematology : a student's textbook. Sofia, Pensoft.

  • Starr, J.L., R. Cook and J. Bridge (eds).  2002. Plant resistance to parasitic nematodes. Wallingford : CAB International.

  • Bridge, J. and Starr, J.L.(2007) Plant Nematodes of Agricultural Importance.  A Colour Handbook.  Manson Publishing, London, U.K.152 p.

  • Davies, K. and Spiegel, Y (eds). 2011.  Biological Control of Plant-parasitic Nematodes:  Building Coherence between Microbial Ecology and Molecular Mechanisms.  Springer, NY 311p.

  • Jones, J., Gheysen, G. and Fenoll, C. (eds).  Genomics and Molecular Genetics of Plant-Parasitic Nematodes.  Springer, Dordrecht 557p.

  • Andrássy, I.. 2005. Free-living nematodes of Hungary (Nematoda, Errantia), I. Hungarian Natural History Museum. Budapest. Hungary, 518 pp.

  • Andrássy, I. 2007. Free-living nematodes of Hungary (Nematoda, Errantia), II. Hungarian Natural History Museum. Budapest. Hungary, 496 pp

  • Andrássy, I.. 2009. Free-living nematodes of Hungary (Nematoda, Errantia), III. Hungarian Natural History Museum. Budapest. Hungary, 608 pp.

  • Bongers, T.  1994. De Nematoden van Nederland. Pirola, Schoorl. Netherlands. 408p.

  • UCIPM - Pest Management Guidelines - nematodes

  • Internet Listservers and bulletin boards

  • NEMAPLEX (, including NEMABASE

  • Department web page and linkages to other sites:

  • Journals:

  • Nematology (Journal)

  • Journal of Nematology
  • Nematropica
  • Journal of Nematode Morphology and Systematics
  • Current issues

    Cobb, 1914 ( Transactions of the American Microscopical Society):

    "They occur in arid deserts and at the bottoms of lakes and rivers, in the waters of hot springs and in polar seas where the temperature is constantly below the freezing point of pure water.  They were thawed out alive from Antarctic ice in the far south by members of the Shackelton expedition. They occur at enormous depths in alpine lakes and in the ocean."

    Also in 1914, Cobb wrote:

    ".....if all the matter in the universe except the nematodes were swept away, our world would still be dimly recognizable, and if, as disembodied spirits, we could then investigate it, we would find its mountains, hills, vales, rivers, lakes, and oceans represented by a film of nematodes. The location of towns would be decipherable, since for every massing of human beings there would be a corresponding massing of certain nematodes. Trees would still stand in ghostly rows representing our streets and highways. The location of various plants and animals would still be decipherable, and, had we sufficient knowledge, in many cases even their species would be determined by an examination of their erstwhile nematode parasites."


    At the millennium we can provide detail to Cobb's pictorial prose by adding that, with present and emerging knowledge, fields in which the soils have been managed in a sustainable manner would be apparent, likewise those in which the soils are damaged by misuse of pesticides or irreversibly polluted with heavy metals. Areas in which the soils have increased in salinity, acidity and eutrophication would be evident as would those with undisturbed and pristine habitats which warrant the highest priority for protection. Our synthesis of the ecological function of nematodes in soil ecosystems has progressed to the extent that we can assess nematode faunal assemblages to measure the impact of stressors which threaten the functioning of soils, we can predict crop losses and can provide advice on cropping sequences and soil management practices so that sustainable optimal yields can be attained.


    Bird, D.M., M.L. Blaxter, J.P. McCarter, M. Mitreva, P.W. Sternberg and W.K. Thomas. 2005. A white paper on nematode comparative genomics. Journal of Nematology 37:408-416.
    Bongers, T. and H. Ferris (1999). Nematode community structure as a bioindicator in environmental monitoring. Trends in Evolution and Ecology 14:224-228.
    Cobb, N. A. (1914). Nematodes and their relationships, USDA Yearbook. Agric. 1914, 457-490.