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Interdepartmental working group on phytonematology


The organisms – Importance of nematodes in agriculture

Plant-parasitic nematodes are a major threat to agricultural, horticultural and silvicultural plants. They feed on the plants, damage roots, transmit pathogens or contribute to disease complexes, weaken plant defences, or cause damage by induction of unspecific defence reactions in roots.

Our mission – competence through innovative research on nematodes

The research of the phytonematology group at the JKI is the basis for policy advice. It also aims to provide novel concepts and methods for a sustainable management of plant-parasitic nematodes.

Current research areas

Nematodes and microbiome: Plants maintain their own microbiome in the rhizosphere, which can partially protect from plant-parasitic nematodes. We elucidate the underlying mechanisms, especially attachment of microbes to the nematode surface and microbial induction of plant defence. A directed management of the soil biome shall strengthen the resistance of cultivated plants against plant-parasitic nematodes.

Emerging nematode pests: We analyse the risk of emerging pest species, their damage potential and the efficiency of quarantine measures. For their detection and monitoring, we develop diagnostic tools.

Nematode populations: There can be significant differences among nematodes of the same species. We compare molecularly distinguishable populations with respect to origin, damage potential, host preference, and susceptibility to control measures.

Resistance of crop varieties: We develop and validate systems to test the resistance or tolerance of potato and sugar beet varieties or cover crops against plant-parasitic nematodes. By frequent exposure to resistant varieties, resistance-breaking nematode populations are selected. We characterize such new virulence types of potato cyst nematodes and search for sources of new resistance genes for potato breeding.

Tare soils: More than a million tons of soil derive from industrial processing of potato and sugar beet each year. We test procedures for phytosanitary treatment of these soils, especially with respect to potato cyst nematodes. In this context, we establish methods for testing the viability of cysts.

Artificial intelligence: The aim of a BMBF-funded project is to develop a digital image analysis tool for quantification and phenotypic characterization of plant-parasitic nematodes.

Contact persons

apl. Prof. Dr. Johannes Hallmann, Institute for Epidemiology and Pathogen Diagnostics

Nematodes in vegetable production and special crops:
Morphological identification & taxonomy, distribution, damage thresholds, host plants

Dr. Holger Heuer, Institute for Epidemiology and Pathogen Diagnostics

Molecular nematology and interactions with microbes:
Molecular identification, intraspecies comparison, epidemiology, microbial antagonists, microbiome, plant defence

Dr. Jan Henrik Schmidt, Institute for Epidemiology and Pathogen Diagnostics

Nematodes as bioindicators:
Identification of plant parasitic and free living nematodes, sustainable farming, German nematode collection

Dr. Sebastian Kiewnick, Institute for Plant Protection in Field Crops and Grassland

Nematodes of field crops:
Resistance testing of crop varieties, strategies for regulation and control, genome and transcriptome research

Dr. Matthias Daub, Institute for Plant Protection in Field Crops and Grassland

Heterodera schachtii, Ditylenchus dipsaci:
Integrated pest management, damage prediction models, ecology, remote sensing, digital image analysis

Dr. Stephan König, Institute for National and International Plant Health

New and regulated nematodes:
National program Globodera, phytosanitary measures, globalization, global warming, risk assessment, interlaboratory tests, molecular diagnostics of regulated nematodes

Dr. Björn Hoppe
https://www.julius-kuehn.de/en/ag/staff/p/s/bjoern-hoppe/, Institute for National and International Plant Health

Nematodes of woody plants:
Bursaphelenchus xylophilus, population dynamics & pathogenicity, phytosanitary treatments, management, globalization, climate change, national monitoring

Official tasks

  • Consulting of national and international political institutions
  • Resistance testing of crop plants
  • National reference laboratory for regulated nematodes, organization of interlaboratory tests
  • Diagnostics of regulated and non-regulated plant-parasitic nematodes
  • Coordination of the autonomous federal plant protection agencies
  • Risk assessment of nematicides
  • Report on quarantine nematodes to the commission of the EU and member states
  • Drafting of national and international regulations and standards for quarantine nematodes
  • Participation: European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO), International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)
Weibchen des Kartoffelzystennematoden (Globodera pallida) ((c) James Mwangi/JKI)
Globodera pallida: Eier und J2-Larve (100x) ((c) Claudia Aukamp-Timmreck/JKI)
Globodera pallida: Juveniles Stadium 2 (250x) ((c) Claudia Aukamp-Timmreck/JKI)
Globodera pallida: Zyste mit Nackenregion ((c) Claudia Aukamp-Timmreck/JKI)
Pratylenchus penetrans in einem Wurzelknöllchen von Soja ((c) Ahmed Elhady Gomaa/JKI)
Prüfung von Kartoffelgenotypen auf Resistenz gegen Kartoffelzystennematoden (G. pallida) ((c) Sebastian Kiewnick/JKI)
Meloidogyne hapla mit anhaftenden Bakterien (Microbacterium sp.), die die Wurzel vor einer Invasion des Nematoden schützen ((c) Olivera Topalovic/JKI)
Zyste (Dauerstadium) des Nematoden Globodera pallida ((c) Sebastian Kiewnick/JKI)