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Nematode Assay Lab

The Florida Nematode Assay lab is a facility in the State of Florida diagnosing samples for nematode assay. The lab determines the types and numbers of plant-parasitic nematodes in soil and plant samples. The lab is part of University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), Entomology and Nematology Department, and is located at Bldg. 970 Natural Area Drive, Gainesville, FL.

What are Nematodes?

Nematodes are a diverse group of worm-like animals. They are found in virtually every environment that can support life, and are found in fresh water, in salt water, in all kinds of soil, and as internal parasites of humans and animals. They are generally minute, but some species can reach several meters in length. Most of the nematodes that inhabit the soil are microbial feeders or predators of other soil organisms, but some parasitize plants and are called Plant-parasitic nematodes.

Plant-Parasitic nematodes

Plant-parasitic nematodes are important in agriculture because they inhibit root growth and eventually overall plant development. This results in poor crop performance and sometimes crop failure. Because plant-parasitic nematodes are difficult or impossible to see in the field, and their symptoms are often non-specific, the damage they cause is often attributed to other, more visible causes. The amount of damage nematodes cause depends on a wide range of factors, such as their population density, the virulence of the species, or strain, and the resistance or tolerance of the host plant etc.
The identification of plant- parasitic nematodes is necessary to confirm their presence. A nematode assay is a microscopic examination of soil and roots that identifies the identity of the given nematode and estimates population size and assesses the potential damage of any plant-parasitic species present. This is important to the success of agriculture and helpsĀ  in the development and evaluation of efficient nematode control strategies.