I started my research project at Laboratory of Nematology amidst the pandemic. As the world was entering a chaotic place, this project acted as a buffer and taught me perseverance. During my internship, I always felt like a part of a team even though I was working from home. Of course, working from home was a new experience in itself and in the beginning, I struggled with the new adjustments. However, I got the hang of it soon after and it got easier to stay disciplined and focused.
My project dealt with potato cyst nematodes: Globodera rostochiensis and Globodera pallida, two of the most notorious pests that cause huge economic problems in the potato farming industry. These nematodes are morphologically identical and they are found together in the field. However, they have different genomic identities. As of now, these pests are managed with crop rotation and resistant potato varieties. The economic disadvantage of crop rotation and the rise of resistance-breaking nematodes results in challenges for these management systems. The goal of my project was to pave a way for a universal solution in which both of these nematodes can be tackled in the field together.
I worked with Mark Sterken and Joris van Steenbrugge on exploring and analyzing transcriptomic datasets of these potato cyst nematodes. One of the best achievements that came out of this project was that I realized my strength in bioinformatics and programming. This project gave me independence to explore the data and I enjoyed the process as much as the end results. My supervisors were open-minded and encouraging. They helped me navigate through difficult tides when needed. They were also very easy to communicate with. And, I found myself thriving throughout this project where I learned to rejoice on every little victories and failures. I am glad I ended my Masters studies in the Laboratory of Nematology. It was a satisfying and fulfilling end to the journey of two years in Wageningen University.