Parasitic worms may soon miss their call to action, saving food crops from destruction
Nematodes are the most abundant multicellular animals on earth, with nearly 20 000 known species. These roundworms range in size from a fraction of a millimetre to over eight metres long. They are frequently found in water and soil, and many are parasites of insects, plants and animals. Cyst nematodes are among them, with more than 75 recorded species, and they are responsible for significant crop loss, threatening global food security. As the use of many pesticides targeting them has been restricted, other means of management are desperately needed. The EU-funded NemHatch project is developing a natural remedy. Cyst nematodes, as their name suggests, form cysts in which their eggs are retained. NemHatch plans to disrupt the signalling molecules – called hatching stimulants – that normally cause the eggs to hatch, for a safe and natural solution to infection.
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