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May 15, 2009 (Vol. 29, No. 10)

Plant Parasitic Nematodes

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A worm invading the roots of a tomato plant may not be nearly as disturbing an image as a worm invading your intestines, but that doesn’t mean that the plant-feeder isn’t harmful. According to this website, an estimated $80 billion worth of crops are destroyed worldwide each year due to plant parasitic nematodes (unsegmented roundworms). This page, hosted by North Caroline State University, makes the case that “Nematodes are economically important to agriculture!” and as such, it introduces the various threats that our beloved vegetables face. The information is not always organized in the best manner —much like a list of random facts—but there is a lot of interesting information there. This includes diagrams charting the life cycle of the nematode and links to other wormy websites. The only part of the website that was blank was the “control strategies” page, so I guess we are powerless against the squirmy guys. My one request to the nematodes: please destroy the brussels sprouts first.
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