Training the next generation of nematode taxonomists: applying the tools of modern
monography across free-living and parasitic Tylenchina.
The great significance, abundance, genetic diversity and key role of the Phylum Nematoda in
basic biology, biodiversity, ecosystems, agriculture, veterinary science and medicine contrasts
starkly with the embryonic state of nematode taxonomy and the paucity of taxonomic specialists.
The primary objective of this PEET is to address this gap by leveraging complementary strengths
of the Departments of Nematology at UCR and UCD, including two major taxonomic collections,
to provide professional training in morphological and molecular nematode systematics. Building
upon our previous PEET successes we will develop a much-needed monograph of the
monophyletic suborder Tylenchina (sensu De Ley and Blaxter, 2002: composed of infraorders
Tylenchomorpha, Cephalobomorpha, Panagrolaimomorpha and Drilonematomorpha), which
includes a range of morphologically disparate free-living microbivores as well as plant and
animal parasitic taxa.
The study will provide a new basis for broad phylogenetic classification of the entire group, and
for detailed monographic revisions targeting specific clades that are particularly underdeveloped
in taxonomic resolution. These clades are also prioritized because they are pivotal to
understanding evolution of the suborder and most specifically the evolution of parasitism. They
also are realistic targets for dissertation research and enhance trainee employment opportunities.
The project is supported by a worldwide network of collaborators including recently retired
expertise assisting with knowledge and access to collections and live specimens. We use novel
specimen preservation techniques proven suitable for international shipping, and for providing
both classical morphological as well as digital vouchers that are linked to DNA sequences. This
research will result in recognition of the morphological/diagnostic characters correlated with
molecular phylogenetic hypotheses. Overall diversity of the suborder will be covered by
obtaining fresh specimens from type localities of the generotypic species, through the assistance
of our collaborators and by our own sampling activities. Furthermore, museum collections
(including undescribed species) for which the same level of precision (e.g. DNA) may not be
available, can then be placed within the monographic framework based on the best available
morphological characters, subject to further testing when live specimens become available.
Morphological training including SEM, and TEM will be coordinated primarily through UCR;
molecular training, including DNA/RNA isolation, PCR amplification, and sequencing will take
place primarily at UCD. One graduate student (UCD) will focus on Cephalobomorpha,
Drilonematomorpha and Daubayliidae; another graduate student (UCR) will address
Tylenchomorpha. However, each student will train each year (summer) at the alternate campus to
broaden experience in both molecular and morphological methods.
Databased information resources generated by this PEET will include: collection data, species
descriptions, distribution data, annotated digital image (VCE) files, molecular sequences,
vouchers, PCR primers, multiple alignments, phylogenetic hypotheses, specimen lists, literature
references, and LucID diagnostic keys for selected groups. Published monographs and taxonomic
descriptions complemented by web-based identification aids will provide major contributions to
the research community, together with substantial additions to taxonomic collections, and the
GenBank and NemATOL databases. The broader impact is through strengthening access for the
international community of scientists to nematode-relevant teaching tools, and value-added
products such as authoritatively identified cultures, identification aids (morphological and
molecular) and phylogenies supporting a wide array of broader advances in basic biology,
ecology, evolution, agriculture, parasitology, and medicine.