Nematodes are wormlike invertebrate animals that are unsegmented. They are cold-blooded, so their metabolic rate and activity are lower in cold conditions. Of the known nematode species, approximately 14 per cent are plant parasites and 25 per cent are free-living, feeding on fungi, bacteria or detritus (Westerdahl et al. 1998). In vineyards, many of the soilborne nematodes are desirable species, which add to the faunal biodiversity, but the plant-parasitic species can cause considerable damage to grapevines.
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Factsheets & other resources
Nematodes, also known as eelworms, are mostly microscopic in size and have translucent, slender wormlike bodies that taper toward the head and tail. They are hard to see with the naked eye, but can be extracted from the soil using specialised techniques. Plant-parasitic nematodes feed on plant roots and can decrease vine productivity. Therefore, it is important that nematode population pressure is assessed pre-planting, and when management inadvertently promotes the lifecycle of nematodes.
The analysis of soil samples for nematodes has to be carried out in a specialist laboratory. The information below suggests general guidelines for collecting nematode samples.
Nematodes are microscopic roundworms. Some species have become parasitic pests of grapevines in Australia. Although they are diffi cult to detect and there is no clear solution to the problem of nematode infestations, routine monitoring and careful consideration of vineyard practices – especially when planting new vines – can help reduce yield losses.