Jun 14, 2013 Debra Cheung


To develop and expand basic knowledge on the systematics, biodiversity, biology and ecology of beneficial (i.e., free-living and insect-parasitic) and plant- and animal-parasitic nematodes. To apply that knowledge in development of control strategies for plant- and animal-parasitic nematodes and promote the use of beneficial nematodes to safeguard agricultural production and the environment.


The department consists of seven Academic Senate faculty for a total of 0.95 I&R, 4.95 OR, and 0.85 CE FTE. Six faculty members have OR/I&R splits ranging from 0.75 to 0.90/0.10 to 0.25. Our specialist in CE has a 0.85 CE/0.15 I&R appointment. By 2006, one faculty (0.25 I&R* and 0.75 OR) will have reached age 65.

*0.25 I&R FTE is assigned to Entomology and is not included in the Nematology's totals.

Major Programmatic Thrusts of the Department (current)

  • Applied nematode management
  • Biological control/integrated pest management
  • Molecular mechanisms of nematode-plant interactions
  • Population genetics
  • Soil ecology
  • Systematics/evolutionary and organismal biology

Major Programmatic Thrusts of the Department (5-10 years)

Technological advances in genomics, informatics and instrumentation will create opportunities for new approaches to control nematode pests and to use free-living and insect-parasitic nematodes to benefit agricultural production and the environment.

Program Impact/Ranking

Although many institutions throughout the world have units of nematology, the faculty in our department are recognized nationally and internationally as leaders in the discipline. Many national and international scientists visit and/or spend time being trained in nematology by our faculty. In addition, our faculty have received national and international awards for research, teaching and extension.

Extramural Grants and Gifts

Faculty obtain grant funding from NSF, NIH, USDA NRI, USDA SARE, Statewide IPM, and various foundation, commodity and industry sources. Extramural funding totaled $545,000 in 1997-98 and $499,000 in 1998-99. Extramural funds for some faculty are also administered through other units on campus (e.g., CEPRAP).

Teaching Programs of the Department

The faculty teach undergraduate and graduate courses in nematology and contribute to undergraduate teaching in many different programs including animal biology, entomology, microbiology, soil science, freshman seminar, and Science and Society. Although the department does not have an undergraduate or graduate degree program, undergraduate and graduate students conduct research in nematology. Graduate students in biochemistry and molecular biology, ecology, entomology, genetics, plant biology, plant pathology and PPPM have been or are housed in the department. Graduate enrollment varies between 5 and 10 which is commensurate with placement opportunities. The faculty also teach in the graduate programs listed above.

Outreach/Extension Roles

The Nematology Cooperative Extension program has one individual (0.85 FTE) covering all crops in northern California and selected crops in Southern California. There is a critical need to bolster our effort in this area as our current specialist is overextended. An additional CE specialist is needed to provide nematological expertise to farm advisors and growers in annual cropping systems.

Positions Needed to Improve Research, Teaching and Extension Goals

  1. Insect nematology - A replacement position is needed to maintain a strong presence in the study of insect-parasitic nematodes for biological control of insect pests. Few alternatives are available to control soil insect pests and insect-parasitic nematodes offer an effective management tool. Research emphasis will be in understanding the genetic basis for host-parasite interactions. Teaching responsibilities include undergraduate courses in entomology and animal biology and graduate courses in nematology.
  2. Physiological/behavioral genetics - A new position will be requested to apply recent advances in comparative genomics (i.e., based on Caenorhabditis elegans resources) to understand and alter or disrupt physiological and behavioral systems of plant-parasitic nematodes. This individual could teach undergraduate courses in genetics (e.g., BioSci 101), behavioral genetics, and animal biology (genomics) and graduate courses in invertebrate developmental biology.
  3. CE specialist - A new position will be requested to lead statewide plant nematology programs in vegetable, field, and row crops and to find alternative approaches to chemical nematicides for nematode control. This new position will permit our current CE specialist to more effectively focus on perennial cropping systems including ornamentals.

"Zero Sum Strategy" (2006)

Position 1, a strong core area in the department, is a top priority and will be achieved via retirement replacement. This position is justified under the Environment and Genetics initiatives. Positions 2 and 3 would not be attainable under a no-growth scenario.

"10-Percent Initiative-based Growth Strategy"

Position 1 is a top priority to be achieved through replacement under the Environment and Genetics initiatives. Position 2 will be sought under the Genomics and Genetics initiatives. Position 3 will be attained from DANR and links with its highest program priorities in integrated pest management.

Projected Resource Needs and Strategies for Achieving

The greatest need is to increase the amount and quality of space as the department occupies only 70 percent of the space recommended in the college guidelines. Space expansion will allow programs to achieve their natural carrying capacity. Currently, a five-year plan has been developed to meet our space requirements and needs to stay on track to accommodate the growth potential of research programs of the faculty in the department.

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