Dr. Abolfazl Hajihassani
Assistant Professor of Nematology
Research in our lab focuses on improving soil health by exploring the epidemiology and management of plant-parasitic nematodes in crops that thrive in South Florida, including tropical fruits, ornamentals, turfgrass, tomato, squash, beans, sugarcane, and rice. We use molecular biology techniques to identify nematodes and examine their phylogeny. We develop and optimize new control methods to manage plant-parasitic nematodes safely and effectively by evaluating their biology and population variability. We are interested in collaborating with small to large businesses (companies) to conduct various laboratory, greenhouse, and field research projects. One of our goals is to communicate the research finding with growers, producers, industry professionals, end-users, and the scientific community.
Research: Identification and population ecology of nematodes
Dr. Hajihassani’s research interests include nematode identification and studying the diversity and distribution of nematodes in South Florida landscapes. We use morphological and DNA-based techniques to uncover the identity of beneficial (entomopathogenic nematodes) and parasitic nematodes. We maintain cultures of various nematode species from both groups and evaluate the efficacy of selected beneficial species against common insect pests in Florida (e.g., turf grass beetles) for use as potential biocontrol agents. Additionally, we evaluate the relationship between soil nematode populations and physiochemical and environmental factors to develop and optimize nematode management practices.
Research: Evaluate the efficacy of synthetic nematicides and bionematicides
Dr. Hajihassani examines the effectiveness of chemical fumigants, non-fumigant nematicides, and biologically based products in controlling nematode populations in different cropping systems, including tropical fruits, vegetables, sugarcane, and turfgrass. We conduct laboratory bioassays (e.g., nematode mortality tests), greenhouse, and field research to discover synthetic and natural nematicidal products that can successfully reduce nematode damage and increase non-target desirable microorganisms in the soil. We conduct field trials to evaluate different application methods of nematicides to enhance their control effectiveness and improve plant growth.
Research: Search for resistance against parasitic nematodes
Dr. Hajihassani conducts greenhouse/microplot phenotypic studies to identify plant species/cultivars/lines that can suppress nematode reproduction. Our ongoing projects include screening for resistance in Solanum species against root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne spp.) and in guava, avocado, and other tropical fruits against root-lesion (Pratylenchus spp.) and root-knot (M. enterolobii and M. incognita) nematodes. We use resistant lines for grafting to reduce the damage caused by nematode pests.
Research: Integrated management of nematodes
Dr. Hajihassani works with other researchers to develop integrated nematode management through the discovery and identification of microbial antagonists of plant-parasitic nematodes. Ongoing collaborative projects include screening endophytic fungi, bacteria, and secondary metabolites of entomopathogenic nematodes to search for effective biocontrol agents against root-knot and sting nematodes. We also study the combined effects of nematode suppressive cover/trap crops and nematicides for nematode management.
NEM5707 – Plant Nematology
NEM6934 – Nematode Management
- Rolish Singh, Postdoctoral Fellow
- Selamawit Kidane, Postdoctoral Fellow
- Denis Gitonga, Ph.D. student
- Jacob Larkin, MS student
- Andres Franco, Biologist/Field Tech
- Francisco Baquedano, OPS Biologist/Field Tech
- Sebastian Palmieri, OPS Research Assistant
Ph.D. Soil Science (Nematology), University of Manitoba, Canada, 2016
M.S. Plant Pathology (Nematology), Azad University of Tehran, Iran, 2008
B.S. Crop Protection, Azad University of Arak, Iran, 2005
Professional Service and Awards
Honors and Awards
2021: Fruit and Vegetable 40 Under 40 Award – Great American Media Services, publishers of Fruit Growers News and Vegetable Growers News.
2021: Junior Extension Scientist Award – University of Georgia, Tifton, GA.
2016: The John M. Webster Outstanding Student Award – Society of Nematologists (SON) and the Nathan A. Cobb Foundation.
2016: University of Manitoba Graduate Student Association Conference Grant to attend SON Annual Meeting in Montreal, Canada
2015: Graduate Student Scholarship – Canadian Phytopathological Society (CPS)
2015: Bayer CropScience Travel Award to attend SON Annual Meeting in East Lansing, MI
2015: University of Manitoba Faculty of Graduate Studies Travel Award to attend SON Annual Meeting in East Lansing, MI
2015: First Place Poster Award at Manitoba Soil Science Society Meeting, Canada
2015: First Place Research Photo Award – Ontario Pest Management Conference, ON, Canada
2014: American Phytopathological Society (APS) Student Travel Award to attend APS-CPS Meeting in Minneapolis, MN
2014: Uni. of Manitoba Travel Award to attend APS-CPS Meeting in Minneapolis, MN
2013: International Graduate Student Scholarship, University of Manitoba, Canada
2012: International Graduate Student Entrance Scholarship, University of Manitoba, Canada
2010: Outstanding Young Research Scholar in Agricultural Sciences, Ministry of Science, Research and Technology, Markazi Province, Iran
2010: Excellent Young Researcher Award in Agricultural Science, Azad University of Arak, Iran
- Associate Editor for Plant Disease
- Review Editor for Frontiers in Plant Science and Frontiers in Microbiology.
- Editor of Plant Disease Management Reports.
- Peer reviewer for more than 16 scientific journals.
- Grant proposal technical reviewer for multiple funding agencies.