The Florida Nematode Assay lab is a facility in the State of Florida diagnosing samples for nematode assay. The lab determines the types and numbers of plant-parasitic nematodes in soil and plant samples. The lab is part of University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), Entomology and Nematology Department, and is located at Bldg. 970 Natural Area Drive, Gainesville, FL.
Plant-parasitic nematodes are important in agriculture because they inhibit root growth and eventually overall plant development. This result in poor crop performance and sometimes crop failure. Because plant-parasitic nematodes are difficult or impossible to see in the field, and their symptoms are often non-specific, the damage they cause is often attributed to other, more visible causes. The amount of damage nematodes cause depends on a wide range of factors, such as their population density, the virulence of the species, or strain, and the resistance or tolerance of the host plant etc.
The identification of plant- parasitic nematodes is necessary to confirm their presence. A nematode assay is a microscopic examination of soil and roots that identifies the identity of the given nematode and estimates population size and assesses the potential damage of any plant-parasitic species present. This is important to the success of agriculture and helps in the development and evaluation of efficient nematode control strategies.