Multimedia Gallery - Soil Nematodes

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ID # 63

Soil Nematodes
This short video shows images and movement of soil nematodes at 40 to 1000X magnification.

STEM Standard addressed: ESS2E - Biogeology

Appropriate Grade Level(s)
  • 6-8
  • 9-12
  • College-level
Materials are best used for
  • Classroom Lectures
  • Laboratory Activities
  • Distance Education Classes
General Course Areas
  • Environmental Science
  • Introduction to Soil Science
  • Soil Microbiology

Category: Biology & Biochemistry

Nematodes are a huge group of non-segmented worms. They are probably the most numerous of the small animals that live in soil. Scientists have estimated that 80% of animal life on planet Earth are nematodes (perhaps as many as one million different species) in many different environments, soil being only one. Some nematodes are major human pathogens. You might hear them called roundworms or eelworms. Most nematodes active in the soil are involved in the soil food web consuming algae, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, organic debris, and even other nematodes, but the few that are plant pathogens get the most attention. Nematodes have a tubular digestive system with a mouth at one end and anus at the other (some say a tube within a tube). There are males and females (most nematodes) and they reproduce by eggs. Sizes in soil range from about 0.3 mm up to 1 cm. Nematodes live primarily in water films and water-filled pores and move by snake-like whipping of their bodies as shown in the video.

Organisms were grown on cornmeal extract agar using the procedures found in Loynachan (2006). Magnification of images are at 40 to 1000X.

Amador, J.A., and J.H. Gorres. 2005. Fauna. pp. 181-200. In: D.M. Sylvia et al. (ed.) Principles and Applications of Soil Microbiology (2nd ed), Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ. Coleman, D.C., and D.H. Wall. 2015. Soil fauna: Occurrence, biodiversity, and roles in ecosystem function. pp. 111-149. In: E.A. Paul (ed.) Soil Microbiology, Ecology, and Biochemistry (4th ed), Elsevier, New York, NY. Loynachan, T.E. 2006. Quick, easy method to show living soil organisms to high school or beginning-level college students. J. Nat. Res Life Sci. Ed. 35:202-208. Nardi, J.B. 2003. The world beneath our feet. Oxford University Press, New York, N.Y.

Peer Review: Yes

Provided By: Dr. Thomas E. Loynachan


  • * Tom Loynachan
    Iowa State University

Submitted By: Dr. Thomas E. Loynachan


  • microorganisms
  • roundworms
  • soil life
  • food chain
  • eelworms
  • small fauna


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