History of nematology in Italy


Notwithstanding nematology is a rather new science, in Italy the first observations and publications on nematodes date back to several centuries ago and are from physicians and botanists. Among them are U. Aldrovandi (1522-1605), who was the first in the word to observe nematodes in insects, and F. Redi, who published in 1684 his observations about “living animals occurring in living animals”. However, the first observations on plant parasitic nematodes were made from the second half of 1800 to early 1900. They refer to Anguina tritici in wheat kernels (1867), Meloidogyne spp. (1875-1904) on several host plants, Ditylenchus dipsaci (1897) in oats. The sugar beet cyst nematode, Heterodera schachtii, was reported in 1931 and the citrus nematode, Tylenchulus semipenetrans, in 1940. The turning point in Italian plant nematology occurred during 1950-1970, when investigations and control trials started on Xiphinema index, the natural vector of the Grape fan leaf virus. In the same period, the Phytosanitary Service of Pescara addressed much of his efforts on plant parasitic nematodes and the Section of Nematology is established at the Experimental Institute of Agricultural Zoology, of the Ministry of Agriculture, in Florence. Moreover, in 1970, the Italian National Research Councils founded in Bari the Laboratory (later Institute) of Agricultural Nematology Applied to Plants. Later on, nematology attracted also the interest of several other Phytosanitary Services, Universities and firms producing nematicides. While nematology was growing up, research objectives evolved from mainly faunistic and chemical control to many more to encompass all aspects of agricultural nematology and that for number and quality made Italian nematology one of the leading nematology at world level.


Historical dates; nematodes; main research focus

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