Dr Mike Hodda.

Dr Mike Hodda: nematode specialist.

Dr Mike Hodda: identifying, valuing and managing nematodes

Dr Mike Hodda is researching the evolutionary relationships of Australia’s nematodes, how they can be identified, and their management in agricultural and natural environments.

  • 10 February 2010 | Updated 29 April 2013

In this article

  1. Overview
  2. Publishing History

Overview

Page 1 of 2

Current activities

Dr Hodda researches all aspects of free-living, plant- and insect-associated nematodes (roundworms), including systematics, identification and diagnosis, biosecurity and quarantine, ecology and pest management. 

He has special interests in collecting and describing Australian species from the Orders Aphelenchida and Dorylaimida, which include:

  • insect parasites
  • economic plant parasites
  • fungus eaters
  • free-living terrestrial and aquatic species.

This research aims to improve the identification of nematode species and make this information available using the latest interactive computer technology. 

The aim is to establish which species are beneficial and which are harmful, and how the populations of these species are influenced by land and water management.

Also investigated are how nematodes influence plant growth, soil processes and other organisms, using conventional and molecular technologies. 

This research can be applied to more general problems of species diagnosis, evolutionary relationships, biodiversity, ecology and the properties of complex systems.

Many devastating pests, such as the nematodes causing Pine Wilt and Ufra disease of rice, are absent from Australia, so differentiating these species from local nematodes has considerable quarantine significance. 

Potato Cyst Nematode is present in only a small area, but poses a major biosecurity problem, which is also being researched.

Other research includes complete taxonomic revisions, using morphological, molecular and host data, of the important pest genera Pratylenchus (Root Lesion Nematodes), Radopholus (Burrowing Nematodes) and Aphelelchoides (Bud & Leaf Nematodes). 

Some species in these genera cause major losses to grains, pasture, horticultural and fruit tree crops, but some are benign, so accurate identification and diagnosis are essential for their management. All genera include damaging species currently absent from Australia.

The taxonomic relationships of several genera of freshwater aquatic nematodes and their distribution relative to riverine conditions are also being investigated, as is a genus of predatory nematodes with potential for biological control.

Making results available in an interactive on-line key is an important component of this work.

Dr Hodda also curates the National Nematode Collection within the Australian National Insect Collection (ANIC). This includes research into preservation and storage of specimens for traditional morphological systematics, and novel methods of storage for molecular characterisation.

Background

Harmful and beneficial nematodes can be identified, monitored and managed in agricultural and natural environments to minimise damage and improve sustainability.

Dr Hodda joined CSIRO in 1995 from the Natural History Museum in London, UK. 

He has worked on projects in:

  • wheat cropping
  • pasture
  • horticulture
  • turf
  • forests
  • freshwater aquatic sediments
  • marine and estuarine systems. 

He has worked on nematodes from every continent, including Antarctica. He was the first to identify and describe several species of nematodes which are plant pests in Australia and has described many new species and genera.

He also recognised different ecological groups of free-living nematodes which contribute in different ways to soil ecosystem health.

Academic qualifications

Dr Hodda has a Bachelor of Science with Honours, a Master of Science and a Doctorate from the Australian National University (ANU), in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory.

He is a visiting fellow in the School of Biological Science at the ANU, an adjunct Associate Professor at Charles Sturt University and has lectured at the ANU, The University of Adelaide, Murdoch University, The University of Ghent in Belgium and Brunel University in London, UK.

He has supervised seven graduate students, and co-coordinates a short course on Nematodes in cropping systems: identification and techniques training course approximately biennially. 

Achievements

Dr Hodda's professional memberships include:

  • President of the Australasian Association of Nematologists
  • Country representative of the European Society of Nematologists
  • Council member of the International Federation of Nematology Societies. 

He was the Convenor of the Organising Committee for the 5th International Congress of Nematology, Brisbane 2008. 

He is Editor for Nematodes for the journals ZOOTAXA and Annals of Applied Ecology, and was awarded a Quarantine Certificate of Commendation 2004 for 'contributing to the quarantine protection of Australia's agricultural industries and unique environment'.

Dr Hodda has published 50 scientific papers in leading journals, and a similar number of reports and general interest articles to take his research to the widest possible audiences.

Find out more about the Australian National Insect Collection (ANIC).