Hello, my name is Ava Verhoeven, and for my MSc Plant Sciences I chose to do a Minor Master thesis at the department of Nematology. During the course Ecological Aspects of Bio-interactions I came in contact with the group and the topic.
In the course, our group performed a pilot field study focused on the differences in nematode communities of rhizosphere soil from several different plant species and the results were very promising. Especially when we compared two plant growth stages of one and the same plant species we observed differences in the abundance of several nematode taxa. This interesting outcome was the starting point of my thesis. In short, we have been looking at differences between rhizosphere nematode communities of two related plant species and between two different growth stages of one and the same plant species. We hoped to be able to see if nematodes make a distinction and if these differences are stronger when comparing between species or growth stages. The following period I've been working on the practical work of my thesis, and I really liked the fact that I could always ask anybody for help. Sampling was fun when doing it together, and while working in the lab it was really reassuring to know that you can get feedback or help if you need it. During my thesis, I felt really welcome at the department. I of course joined in at the activities, such as Sinterklaas and his green fluorescent Pieten, the Christmas lunch and the dinner with our subgroup. Other things that made me feel like a part of the group were the coffee breaks and the genuine interest in my progress during the work meetings at Tuesday morning. The awesome results we achieved from the research were also very much appreciated. We were able to draw the main conclusion that most nematode taxa are very specific in their rhizosphere preference: most nematode taxa make a clear distinction between two plant stages, and also between two plant species. Altogether, I had a great time!