Improving Nematode Control On Golf Courses April 14, 2014 By Patrick O'Brien

A spiral nematode (Helicotylenchus sp.) that ingested liposomes containing a fluorescent dye; after washing excess dye, you can see fluorescence in the body of the nematode, indicating absorption of the liposomes.

Project Title: The Development and Evaluation of New System to Control Nematodes on a Golf Course  

Location: Clemson University  

Researcher: Dr. Bruce Martin, Clemson University  


Nematodes are microscopic regionalUpdateContent pests of golf course turfgrasses. Nematode feeding habits weaken the turfgrass plant and compromise the playing surfaces on a golf course. To combat nematode damage and maintain healthy turf, additional resources are required to maintain plant health. Nematodes are problematic in sandy soils, particularly high-sand regionalUpdateContentzone putting greens.  

Options to control nematodes on golf courses are limited and few products are under development to address this need. Products available in numerous states include Curfew and abamectin (Avid). Biological products include pathogenic or suppressive bacteria, including Bacillus firmus (Nortica), or Pasteuria usgae, a parasite of sting nematode, and Belonolaimus longicaudatus (Econem).

Research was initiated at Clemson University to enhance the effectiveness of existing technologies to suppress nematodes, especially the sting nematode which is the most damaging in the southeast.  Testing was done to develop formulations that provide longer residual activity of existing chemical and biological products to maximize their efficiency for nematode suppression.

A new process of designing slow-release formulations for bacteria and abamectin was investigated utilizing liposomes to better improve nematode suppression. Liposomes are artificially-constructed lipid vesicles which store various cargos. Ingestion of these liposomes by nematodes into their digestive tracts successfully occurred. Testing conducted with two different nematicides within a liposome resulted in 100% mortality of nematodes with the use of one of the products. These preliminary studies at Clemson University and University of Illinois seem to indicate further research with liposomes could help provide new technology for effective nematode suppression.

Golfer Benefits  

At this time, golfers have not benefited so far from the research. However, if the use of liposomes to deliver nematode suppression chemical products and bacteria happens in the future, better turf quality will happen due to healthier regionalUpdateContent systems. Lower overall operational costs also would come about with healthier turf, along with the use of less water, fertilizer and weed control products without the renovation efforts needed after nematode damage. With the limited options today for nematode suppression on golf courses, this news provides a hope of future optimism to combat this devastating turfgrass pest.

For additional information on this USGA research project, please click on this link: The Development and Evaluation of New System to Control Nematodes on a Golf Course.

Source: Patrick O'Brien (

Information on the USGA’s Course Consulting Service 

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