Articles | Volume 2, issue 2
Review article
20 Jun 2016
Review article |  | 20 Jun 2016

Technological advancements and their importance for nematode identification

Mohammed Ahmed, Melanie Sapp, Thomas Prior, Gerrit Karssen, and Matthew Alan Back

Abstract. Nematodes represent a species-rich and morphologically diverse group of metazoans known to inhabit both aquatic and terrestrial environments. Their role as biological indicators and as key players in nutrient cycling has been well documented. Some plant-parasitic species are also known to cause significant losses to crop production. In spite of this, there still exists a huge gap in our knowledge of their diversity due to the enormity of time and expertise often involved in characterising species using phenotypic features. Molecular methodology provides useful means of complementing the limited number of reliable diagnostic characters available for morphology-based identification. We discuss herein some of the limitations of traditional taxonomy and how molecular methodologies, especially the use of high-throughput sequencing, have assisted in carrying out large-scale nematode community studies and characterisation of phytonematodes through rapid identification of multiple taxa. We also provide brief descriptions of some the current and almost-outdated high-throughput sequencing platforms and their applications in both plant nematology and soil ecology.

Short summary
This review covers the history and advances made in the area of nematode taxonomy. It highlights the success and limitations of the classical approach to nematode taxonomy and provides reader with a bit of background to the applications of protein and DNA-based methods for identification nematodes. The review also outlines the pros and cons of the use of DNA barcoding in nematology and explains how DNA metabarcoding has been applied in nematology through next-generation sequencing.