Nematodes, also known as roundworms, are microscopic organisms that live in soil. While some nematodes are harmless, phytoparasitic nematodes feed on plants and can disfigure and kill crops. Almost all types of soil contain phytoparasitic nematodes, which make up one of the largest animal phyla and can survive in a variety of global habitats.
Nematodes eat plant roots, damaging and distorting the plants. Plants contract diseases and viruses from the saliva of nematodes, which not only destroys the plants directly but also weakens them so they are more susceptible to other diseases. Nematodes affect the marketability of plants by disfiguring them so they are too ugly to sell.
Nematodes are one of the most difficult pests to treat because of their persistence. Even if growers apply treatments to kill populations of nematodes, the populations will replenish themselves in the same crop field before the season is over. Their variety and ability to withstand treatment causes growers millions of dollars in crop loss, creating a huge impact on global food supply and the agricultural economy. Growers have trouble treating their crops for nematode infestation because nematodes are difficult to diagnose due to their microscopic size. Even if growers are able to disagnose the nematode populations, there are limited and expensive options for regulation and treatment.
Currently, nematicides have a 216 million dollar market, and growers and consumers alike are asking for a nematicide that is safer for the environment and easier on growers’ budgets. For environmental reasons, the market is moving away from toxic chemical pesticides and toward biorationals, which control nematicides safely and effectively.