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Nematology Research Unit

Nematology at Ghent University has a longstanding tradition of teaching and research, initiated in the 1930s. The Nematology Research Unit gained an international reputation for its research and education. This has attracted students and researchers from all over the world to be trained in the wonderful world of nematodes.

The Nematology research unit has more than 80 years of experience in nematological research. Currently we focus on taxonomy, phylogeny, morphology, and biology of nematodes from natural and agricultural ecosystems, including free-living, plant-parasitic, virus-vector, facultatively parasitic and entomopathogenic nematodes. Focusing from the backbone of nematode phylogeny to species delineation, we integrate a tradition of light-microscopy and ultrastructural morphology with molecular approaches.

Current topics under investigation in our research unit include:

  • Optimizing nematode taxonomy: combining morphology and DNA-based species delimitation, (digital) morphological vouchers of sequenced individuals, sequences and ecology of specimens from type populations, DNA barcoding and comprehensive databanks. (See also
  • Diversity of plant-parasitic and entomopathogenic nematodes in tropical and developing countries
  • Diversity and succession of nematodes in (vermi-)compost processes, and the interaction of compost nematodes on soil food web processes
  • Biology, cryptic biodiversity, and evolution of facultatively parasitic nematodes (e.g. Halicephalobus spp.)
  • The origin and evolution of plant-parasitism
  • Spermatogenesis of nematodes
  • Ultrastructural morphology of nematodes and other animals

In 1992, a first training course in nematology was created as the Postgraduate International Nematology Course (PINC) and has trained more than 300 students over the past 25 years. The programme is characterised by its multidisciplinary approach and its internationally renowned lecturers from Ghent University and guest professors from our partner universities and institutes.
The course has grown to be a full 2 year master programme in 2007. A second Erasmus Mundus master programme, European Master of Science in Nematology (EUMAINE) saw the light in 2008, intensifying the international collaboration within nematology education.

In September 2015, the two master programmes were merged into one master programme: the International Master of Science in Agro- and Environmental Nematology (IMaNema). To create a more conducive and locally appropriate link for capacity building in the South, the programme has included since 2017 an international mobility option to Kenya with an internship, agricultural extension work and participation in a satellite training programme as educators to increase the hands-on experience for our students in a global south context. Additionally, there are two short satellite trainings in Ethiopia and Kenya to create more outreach in nematology knowledge transfer for staff in the public and private sector in Sub-Sahara Africa.

Our current associated partners are:
ILVO Merelbeke (BE), Bonn University (DE), E-Nema Kiel (DE), University of Evora (PT), National Plant protection Institute Wageningen (NE), Wageningen University (NE), James Hutton Institute (UK), North-West University (SA), Federal University of Pernambuco (BR).

The course is funded by the VLIR-UOS and Belgian Development Cooperation.

Ghent University is one of the leading institutions of higher education and research in Europe and is currently ranked among the top 100 world rankings. It is composed of 11 faculties, spread over the city of Ghent and surroundings, making it an intrinsic part of the city. Ghent University offers a wide range of facilities and services such as student accommodation, a sports centre, a language centre, libraries, childcare, job and ICT services.

The City of Ghent is located in the northern, Dutch speaking part of Belgium. It was founded in the 9th century and has developed into a modern city respecting its historic monuments and giving priority to pedestrians and bikers. Next to being a very lively student city, it is regarded as one of the most beautiful cities of Belgium, attracting many tourists for its lively cultural scene with music festivals, a film festival, varied performing arts scene and musea. Belgium is a multilingual country, hence most people can speak English, French and/or German.