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Although it had been known since the early part of the twentieth century that soil could be a source of virus infection to newly established plants, the first direct demonstration that soil nematodes transmit plant viruses was not reported until 1958. Quickly thereafter, other examples of virus transmission by nematodes were reported, leading to the current acceptance of 30 nematode species that are known to transmit 15 viruses. The viruses are of two types that previously were referred to as either nepoviruses, with spherical particles, or tobraviruses, with rod-shaped particles. The name “nepovirus” originates from the contraction of “nematode-transmitted virus with polyhedral particles,” while “tobravirus” is derived from the virus name Tobacco rattle virus. Recent changes to the classification of nematode-transmitted spherical viruses mean that not all of these viruses now are placed in the genus Nepovirus. Nevertheless, to simplify the discussion, we will refer to this collection of viruses as nepoviruses. A comprehensive review detailing the biology of virus-vector nematodes was written by Taylor and Brown. We build on this review to include new information about the molecular mechanism of virus transmission by nematodes, and we discuss current work that aims to control plant diseases caused by these viruses and their vector nematodes.

Key concepts included in this chapter:

  • Plant Viruses Transmitted by Nematodes

  • Nematodes That Transmit Plant Viruses

  • Control of Nematode-Transmitted Viruses

  • Future Research