Nematodes, commonly known as roundworms, are the most abundant in numbers and the 2nd most abundant in species multicellular animals on earth. They are classified under the Phylum Nematoda, and most of them are transparent, threadlike and microscopic in size. The estimated number of all nematode species is around millions; however, to date, only a few thousand have been identified and named. Nematodes can be found in all ecosystems, including terrestrials and oceans, even in the harsh environment as Antarctica.
Nematodes have diverse feeding subgroups. The majority feeds on bacteria, while others feed on fungi, plants or animals. One of the bacteriavorous species, Caenorhabditis elegans, is an important model animal widely used nowadays. There are only around a thousand somatic cells in C. elegans, of which the developmental fates have been completely mapped. With the use of RNAi and other genetically manipulating techniques, C. elegans has been a useful tool in animal studies. For example, three scientists claimed the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2002 for research relating to this worm.
In our department, we are aware of the importance of parasitic nematodes. Plant parasitic nematodes use stylet to suck out cell contents of their host plant tissues. With fast reproductive rate, they lead to the mass destruction of crops and brought billions of agricultural losses world-wide year after year. On the other hand, certain insect parasitic nematodes are considered very valuable as they are highly efficient at attacking agricultural insect pests. Dr. Jiue-in Yang’s lab conduct research on multiple important topics relating to plant and insect parasitic nematodes.
Yang, Jiue-in Associate Professor
- Molecular detection assays of nematodes
- Nematode population studies
- Entomopathogenic nematodes in Taiwan
- Plant parasitic neamtode control