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Nematodes, also known as roundworms, belong to the phylum Nematoda. They are among the most abundant animals on Earth; four out of five animals are nematodes. Most nematodes feed on bacteria, fungi, or other microscopic organisms. Almost every shovel of soil, freshwater or marine sediment probably contains thousands of worms, including new species. Consequently, they play a significant role in soil and sediment ecosystems. The number of named species is about 40,000, but the estimated number of extant nematode species is one million or more. One particular species that feeds on soil bacteria, Caenorhabditis elegans, has gained renown as a research model: three experts on the biology of this worm were awarded the Nobel Prize.

A minority of nematode species act as parasites, affecting humans, livestock, or agricultural crops. Hence, these parasites have garnered substantial attention from researchers in the field of Nematology. For instance, root-knot, cyst, and lesion nematodes pose threats to a wide range of crops, resulting in annual crop losses amounting to $157 billion USD per year. Notable animal parasites with significant health and economic implications encompass hookworms, pinworms, trichina, and dog heartworms.

Certain parasitic nematodes offer beneficial applications, particularly those that target insects and are utilized to control detrimental insect and slug populations. Additionally, other beneficial nematodes can serve as bio-indicators. The research conducted on nematodes has a direct positive impact on the well-being of humanity and significantly advances our understanding of Earth's biodiversity.

The ESN primarily focuses on nematodes of agricultural significance, but also covers other groups.

Useful websites (suggestions welcome!):


Society of nematology: information on Nematology

Nematology, International Journal of Fundamental and Applied Nematological Research  

Nematode pictures Wageningen University

Plant-Parasitic Nematodes and Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa

Nematology digital learning platform UGent

International MSc in Agro- and Environmental Nematology