Newly discovered chemical is a highly targeted killer of parasitic worms

Thursday, May 25, 2023 - 17:07 in Biology & Nature

The most abundant animals on farms—and everywhere on land, in fact—are microscopic worms called nematodes. Some kinds benefit the soil, but others parasitize crops, inflicting more than $100 billion in losses worldwide each year. Although pesticides can get rid of harmful nematodes, they inflict collateral damage on other life. Now, researchers have discovered a new chemical that selectively kills harmful nematodes with a much lower risk of toxicity to humans and other creatures. “This is really unique,” says parasitologist Tim Geary of McGill University and Queen’s University Belfast, who was not involved. “It could offer a way to improve control of crop pests.” Farmers try to prevent nematode damage in various ways. Rotating crops, sterilizing soil with plastic sheets, and planting nematode-resistant crop varieties can all help control the problem, but the...

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