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nr 10

Last updated on 21.11. 2005
Nic Smol

Postgraduate International Nematology Course

Nematodes are a group of predominantly microscopic worms occurring in large numbers in all habitats; most are free-living while others are parasitic. Animal parasitic nematodes are primarily studied in veterinary science and are not treated further here except for insect parasites and in the course "General morphology". 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 bio control agents. Through sheer numbers, free-living nematodes affect a wide range of cycling and decomposition processes in nature, both in soils and in freshwater or marine sediments.
The Master of Science in Nematology programme includes training and research on the morphology, systematics and biology of plant parasitic, insect parasitic and free-living 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. Major attention is given to crop protection and topics including 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 is the latest techniques being developed for control of nematode pests, such as genetic manipulation.