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CRC60044: Nematode taxonomy - PhD

Plant nematology as a discipline is in a state of depletion in Australia at present, yet nematode pathogens cause losses of at least $450 million per annum in Australia and US$120 billion each year in crop losses worldwide.

There are some serious emergency nematode pathogens, such as the potato cyst-nematodes (Globodera rostochiensis, G. pallida), and stem nematodes (Ditylenchus dipsaci), and their presence is a quarantine issue and a non-tariff barrier to trade. In the past three years several additional species of root-lesion nematode (Pratylenchus spp) have been found in Western Australia (WA). The cereal cyst nematode (Heterodera avenae) is now known to be much more widely spread in WA than previously thought. The root-knot nematode Meloidogyne fallax has recently been detected in WA, and related species such as M. artiellia are serious problems in chickpeas grown in the Mediterranean region where new germplasm is often collected for Australian crop improvement. Climate modelling also indicates that many nematode pests of Mediterranean, sub-tropical and tropical regions would survive well if introduced into Australia. 

What is the biosecurity problem?

In order to improve Australian biosecurity against new incursions of nematode pathogens, it is essential to conduct a risk analysis, to assess potential agricultural and horticultural zones at risk.
There is also a need to have improved technologies available to detect, identify and eliminate exotic plant parasitic nematodes. This will enable potential new incursions to be predicted, controlled, and a thorough knowledge of nematode issues will also promote Australian trade and market access through high quality evidence-based support of phytosanitary issues and regulations.

The main outputs of this project were to:

  • train an individual to the PhD level in plant parasitic nematode biology, risk assessment and taxonomy
  • train an individual to the PhD level in classical and molecular diagnostics of plant nematode pathogens
  • develop and validate new high throughput nematode diagnostic techniques for surveying and monitoring the presence of nematode pathogens
  • provide a trained individual with expertise and understanding of plant biosecurity issues, who can take on a leadership role in this area of biosecurity of soil-borne pathogens, and
  • develop a faster detection techniques such as MALDI-TOF MS

Who are the end-users of this research?

Personnel without nematode knowledge, Australian Quarantine Inspection Services officers and the agricultural industry in general.

The Estonian translation of this page is available here. 


Matthew Tan
Student CRC60044: Nematode taxonomy - PhD

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Professor Michael Jones (Murdoch University) and Dr Vivien Vanstone (Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia)
Supervising Institution
Murdoch University
August 2009 - June 2010