My “relationship” the Nematology Lab started in January 2009. Together with a friend, I gave a “mobile” practical course that aims to make Dutch high school students familiar with molecular biology. We visited twenty high schools in six weeks and were teaching upper school students about the use of PCR and about diseases caused by nematodes. Sven van den Elsen from the Nema Lab was our enthusiastic supervisor, he brought me into contact with Nematology.
From then on I stayed in touch with this chair group. In September 2009 I did a practical training in Caribbean part of Costa Rica, via contacts of Gert Kema (PRI) & Hans Helder. There I concentrated on the control of a harmful fungus, called black Sigatoka (Mycosphaerella fijiensis), in the commercial banana production. I performed a screen for resistance of this fungal pathogen against major fungicides. Besides I tested a biological controller, called Enzicur (Koppert Biological Systems) which is based on enzymes in milk. I investigated the effect of this control agent on black Sigatoka development on young banana plants in the field, and on the growth of spores in vitro. Over there, I started to realize enormous impact of fungicide resistance, and I performed a number of experiments to test the field efficacy of Enzicur against this devastating disease.
After finishing my internship & my graduation, I returned to the group of Hans Helder to start my thesis, supervised by Jet Vervoort. In my PhD thesis I will study (as a start) the impact of invasive plants on the plant- and nematode community, for the latter group we used Q-PCR and DNA-barcode based monitoring. I appreciate the enthusiasm to their work & the trust and support they gave me. I was also impressed by the way they organized het labuitje (laboratory outing) 2010, where we even sailed in a balloon. I’m pleased I’ve got the opportunity to stay even longer by continuing as PhD student in the Nematology Lab.