Early stage researchers investigate bio indicators during upcoming Nematology Conference in South Africa

30 April 2014 by Anja Feldmann, posted in Uncategorized

A tiny worm might play a huge role for Global Food Security in the future: mostly seen as a vermin, certain nematodes (*) have what it takes to become useful and beneficial. During the next two weeks, we will highlight student research projects to find out more about the multicellular and versatile worm and the people who devote their scientific interest to it. 

From May 4 to 9th, young researchers will discuss latest findings and difficulties in dealing with nematodes at a conference “Ensuring the future on nematology” in Cape Town, South Africa. At the conference, selected students will give presentations and attend interactive posters sessions. 56 PhD and master students have followed BASF’s invitation to present their projects. One of them is Caro Kapp from the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa.

The PhD student has found out how to use the worm as a bio-indicator for soil health: Fruit orchards and vineyards are an important economic factor in South Africa. Farmers need to know how amendments in soil can affect the soil health. Caro already did her Master’s degree in soil health and specialized in nematodes then and up to now was looking in vain for opportunities to exchange with other worm experts on her specific research topic. “Somebody needs to help agriculture in this country to improve farmers management processes and soil health overall. We have so much soil and we have to use it at its best capability”, says Kapp.

Biological plant protection is raising increasing interest in the industry. For example, BASF is strengthening its research activities in nematology overall and is a leading provider of beneficial nematodes. The students’ work and experience is an important step towards developing nations to ensure global food security.

Bruno Massa Ngala from the Harper Adams University in Newport, UK, will also present his research results at the conference. Is focus is on potatoes: He has identified a certain species to help managing potato cyst nematode infestations. He is convinced that plant diseases on potatoes can be eradicated in a sustainable, natural way. “Such integrated pest management control developed in my thesis are a very cost effective way to control plant diseases”, said Ngala. He wants to get in touch with other researchers to discuss in the nematodes topics his colleagues are doing research in.

There are few days to go till the conference starts. Other young researchers with interesting and different research approaches on nematology are going to be interviewed in the following day.


Author: Sven Heppes

The author Sven Heppes is a trainee in Media & Communications at BASF. For Sven having his expertise in communications and thereby, a different field than nematodes and agriculture, it was fascinating exploring this new topic.

  • (*)Fadenwürmer: "Nematodes are microscopic round worms which either can be beneficial or detrimental to plant health. When used as commercial products they are classified as macro-biological control agents, different from chemicals and micro-biologicals (e.g. bacteria and fungi). There are many different species and the ones produced commercially are often referred to as “beneficial nematodes” to differentiate them from plant parasitic nematodes that farmers and gardeners are often more familiar with (e.g. potato cyst nematode). (Source: Wikipedia, Biological control at Cornell U)
  • More information on the International Nematology Conference can be found here: http://www.6thicn.com

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