RESOURCES: Wayward Worms on the Web

Science  27 Jun 2003:
Vol. 300, Issue 5628, pp. 2011
DOI: 10.1126/science.300.5628.2011b

Many nematodes, such as Acrobeles complexus, are solid citizens that peacefully slurp up soil bacteria. Others are tiny terrors that victimize crops, domestic animals, and us. This trio of sites teems with information for aficionados of the ubiquitous worms. At NEMBASE, a genome database from the University of Edinburgh, U.K., you can analyze and compare DNA sequences from 10 parasitic nematodes that infest humans and other animals. The list of malefactors includes the worms behind the human diseases river blindness and filariasis, which can cause grotesque swelling of the limbs. Link to the lab's home page for more information on the evolutionary relationships of these and other species.

Wriggle over to this site from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, to find descriptions of the 15 “least wanted” plant pest species, as well as accounts of common nematodes that assault crops such as corn and potatoes. Nematodes also plague insects, and some researchers are hoping to exploit the worms' hunger to control pests. Biocontrol is the subject of this site from Ohio State University in Columbus. Gardeners will cheer the photos of insects falling victim to worm attack.

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