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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


New Biological Control Book Brainchild of Ohio State Scientist

April 24, 2006

Editor: For a photo of Grewal, contact Ken Chamberlain, (330) 263-3779 or

WOOSTER, Ohio — Biocontrol agents are becoming more popular as both the public and regulators recognize the environmental and human-health risks associated with chemical pesticides. Nematodes, one type of biocontrol agent, have proven to be highly effective against a wide variety of plant, animal and human pests. And now, a new book that compiles nematode research from around the world is helping spread the word about these unique natural pesticides.

Nematodes as Biocontrol Agents is the brainchild of Parwinder Grewal, an Ohio State University entomologist based on the Wooster campus of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), who served as its lead editor. The other two editors are Ralph-Udo Ehlers, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Germany; and David Shapiro-Ilan, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service. The book was released in December 2005 by CABI Publishing, a British-based leading disseminator of research in the life sciences.

Pest-killing nematodes are microscopic roundworms that can be applied through sprayers or irrigation systems to do the same job as chemical pesticides — minus the potential pollution. Unlike parasitic nematodes, which cause disease in plants, animals and humans, beneficial nematodes are used to fight costly insect and slug pests in vegetables, turfgrass, citrus, strawberry, cranberry and ornamental crops. They have also shown promise against animal and human pests such as fleas, ticks and lice.

In some instances, nematodes are the only control available for certain pests: just ask the citrus growers of Florida, who rely on the tiny worms to combat the root-feeding citrus weevil.

The 505-page book documents and illustrates major developments in the use of nematodes for the biological control of insects and slugs, said Grewal, an associate professor in the Department of Entomology and a specialist with Ohio State University Extension. It covers the use of three main types of nematodes: insect-parasitic nematodes, slug-parasitic nematodes, and entomophilic nematodes (those that associate with insects for the development of part of their life cycles).

Topics include biology, commercial production, formulation and quality control, application technology, strategy, compatibility with agrochemicals, and safety of each of these three nematode groups. The book also examines the application of nematodes in different cropping systems and their efficacy against specific pests.

A truly international effort, this volume gathers research by 54 leading biocontrol scientists from 18 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, France, India, Japan and the United Kingdom.

In addition to being the lead editor, Grewal co-authored six of the book’s 28 chapters. Other Ohio State researchers who contributed to the volume are entomologists Casey Hoy and Roger Williams, as well as research associate Ganpati Jagdale.

An internationally renowned nematologist who has been at Ohio State since 1997, Grewal heads the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences’ Urban Landscape Ecology Program and the Center for Urban Environment and Economic Development. He is the leading scientist in a $1.8 million project funded by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to sequence the genome of insect-parasitic nematodes — a key development that could help nematodes go mainstream in the insecticide market by increasing their effectiveness and reducing their cost (for details, go to

Nematodes as Biocontrol Agents is available through Oxford University Press. For more information, log on to, or contact Grewal at (330) 263-3963,


Mauricio Espinoza
Parwinder Grewal