Many nematodes cause damage in crops, like our model organism Heterodera schachtii, the sugar beet cyst nematode. Similar pest threaten potato plants, soybean, cereal, and vegetables. Their monitoring is important for the trade of agricultural goods, plant breeding, or plant protection activities.
Nowadays, monitoring still uses visual scoring and other manual practices so that it is time consuming and depends on experts. Thus, the influence of the human factor is still prominent. Developing automatic monitoring tools will speed up the process and makes it more reliable and reproducibel. Therefor our developments are an important contribution in improving nematode monitoring.
Nematode monitoring starts with extracting the nematodes from soil and plants. This includes washing and sieving steps.
At the end of this preparation, cysts together with debris are present on a filter paper. Our cyst imaging method stats with these filters and targets to find the cysts among the debris.
Breaking up the cysts in further working steps gives access to their content, the eggs and juvenils, i.e. the free stages of the nematodes. These stages can be imaged and analyzed with our microscopic imaging and image processing method. The method is applicable for cyst forming species to analyze cyst content, but can be similarly applied to nematodes that do not form cysts and thus always are present as free stages.