Annual Review of Phytopathology vol:45 pages:457-85
A major challenge facing agricultural scientists today is the need to secure food for an increasing world population. This growth occurs predominantly in developing, mostly tropical countries, where the majority of hungry people live. Reducing yield losses caused by pathogens of tropical agricultural crops is one measure that can contribute to increased food production. Although plant-parasitic nematodes are often not as important as some other biotic and nonbiotic constraints on crop production in the tropics, they can nevertheless cause extensive damage and substantial yield losses. The effects of agricultural, environmental, socioeconomic, and policy changes on the occurrence of plant-parasitic nematodes in the tropics and the losses these pathogens cause are largely undocumented. Recent developments pose new challenges to tropical nematology. The increased application of molecular diagnostics may widen the knowledge gap between nematologists working in developed countries and in the tropics. Uncertainties concerning the validity of nematode species will lead to practical problems related to quarantine measures and nematode management. The study of interactions between nematodes and other pathogens in disease complexes provide opportunities for multidisciplinary research with scientists from other disciplines but remain underexploited. Difficulties in recognizing emerging nematode threats prevent the timely implementation of management strategies, thus increasing yield losses. Research is needed to address these challenges. Examples are presented mainly but not exclusively from banana, peanut, and rice nematology.