Biochemical and Molecular Characterization of Plant-Parasitic Nematodes

I.M. de O. Abrantes, M.C. Vieira dos Santos, I. Luci, P.M. da Conceiçao, M. José M. da Cunha, M.S.N. de A. Santos


Nematologists need correct species identification to carry out research, teaching, extension and other
activities. Therefore, nematode taxonomy must be pursued diligently at all levels. The identification of plant-parasitic
nematodes is not always easy and that of some species is especially difficult. Most of the information that nematologists
use when characterizing and identifying specimens is based on morphological and morphometrical characters. Although
these characters are of primary importance, in the last three decades they have been supplemented by biochemical/
molecular characters. Biochemical approaches include the separation of proteins (general proteins and
isozymes) by one-dimensional gel electrophoresis, isoelectric focusing, two-dimensional gel electrophoresis, and sodium
dodecyl sulphate-capillary gel electrophoresis. Serology has also been found effective in the identification and
quantification of nematodes, monoclonal antibodies being a more useful immunological tool than polyclonal antibodies.
Identification based on the direct examination of DNA is potentially a more powerful method to characterize
inter- and intra-specific variability. The development of techniques such as the polymerase chain reaction, restriction
fragment length polymorphism, randomly amplified polymorphic DNA, and amplified fragment length polymorphism
has increased the accuracy and speed of nematode characterization/identification. Progress continues to be
made and more and more nematologists are using molecular techniques for diagnostic purposes and to assess genetic

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