February 15, 2010
- 85% Research
- 15% Extension
- Diploma, Agriculture, Ambo Institute of Agriculture, Ethiopia 1974
- Diploma, Crop Protection, Harper Adams College, England 1978
- M.Sc., Nematology, Imperial College, University of London, England 1980
- Ph.D., Nematology/Biology, Simon Fraser University, Canada 1986
My research focus has been on understanding the effects of agricultural practices (APs) such as soil amendments, tillage and cropping systems on plant-nematode-soil-nutrient interactions at the organism and ecosystem levels with special emphasis on developing models that identify integrated and sustainable nematode, nutrient cycling, and soil health management strategies. Soil health has biological, physicochemical, nutritional, structural and water-holding components that need to be kept in balance. Sustainable soil health requires i) generating three sets of ecosystem services: a) improve soil structure, physicochemistry, nutrient cycling and water holding capacity; b) suppress pests and diseases while increasing beneficial organisms in the same environment; and c) improve biological functioning and crop yield; and meeting ii) environmental and iii) economic expectations simultaneously. My program uses three nematode community analyses-based models as decision-making tools in translating basic and applied multi-disciplinary soil health knowledge into sustainable and practical applications.
Nematodes, the most abundant metazoan on the planet, include beneficial (bacterivores, fungivores, predators and omnivores) and harmful (herbivores) trophic groups (TGs). Within TGs, there are five colonizer-persistor (c-p) categories ranging from fast- (c-p 1) to slow-reproducing (c-p 5) groups. Herbivore nematodes cause crop quality and yield loss by either partially- (ectoparasites) or fully-embedded (endoparasites) in plant tissues and sucking host cell contents and disrupting water and nutrient uptake and the photosynthesis process in one of three ways: destructive (host cells killed, e.g. root-lesion, Pratylenchus), adaptive (cells modified e.g. cyst, Heterodera) and neoplastic (cells modified and undergo new growth, e.g. root-knot, Meloidogyne) feeding behaviors. Beneficial nematodes are central players in the soil food web (SFW), nutrient cycling and important indicators soil health conditions. We developed a Fertilizer Use Efficiency (FUE) model by measuring the relationship between changes in the abundance of either beneficial or harmful nematodes quantified at the trophic group level and ecosystem services (e.g. soil organic matter, nutrient, yield, etc.) to identify best-to-worst case soil health outcomes for sustainability and meeting economic and environmental expectations (see fig. 5: https://doi.org/10.3390/soilsystems5020032). In addition to separating the role of beneficial and harmful nematodes in the same environment, the FUE model enables decision-making without accounting for the nematode functions or the biophysicochemical processes driving the SFW.
We use the Ferris et al. (2001) SFW model to understand the biophysicochemical process-based soil health outcomes. This model quantifies beneficial nematodes at the TG and c-p group levels and relates changes in population dynamics relative to food and reproduction (Enrichment Index) and tolerance to disturbance (Structure Index) and identifies if an AP is resulting in best-to-worst outcomes for nutrient cycling and agroecosystem suitability (see fig 3: https://doi.org/10.3390/soilsystems5020032). Our third and most recent decision-making tool is the lntegrated Productivity Efficiency (IPE) model. The IPE model quantifies beneficial nematodes at the TG and c-p levels and uses similar principles as the FUE model to separate outcomes into sustainable, unsustainable, or requiring specific modification to be sustainable categories for soil health indicator, nematodes and soil health (see fig. 2: https://doi.org/10.3390/soilsystems6020035). The three models are decision-making tools that provide foundations towards step-by-step integration and alignment of different ecosystem services and soil health indicators and developing sustainable soil health management strategies on the basis of one-size-fits-all or a location-specific approaches.
Extension and Outreach Interests
Working with MSU Extension Educators, my goal is to increase awareness towards achieving sustainable soil health management strategies in cropping systems by translating complex biophysicochemical-driven information in ways that relate to production. Following are examples of publications:
- Managing Nematodes, Cover Crops, and Soil Health in Diverse Cropping Systems (2021). MSUE Extension Bulletin E3457.
- Nematodes and soil health management. Great Lakes Expo 2022. Soil-Health-Cover-Crop-Nematodes-and-Soil-Health-Management_Melakeberhan_12_07_2022_2pm.pdf (glexpo.com)
- Balancing nematodes and cover crop management. Great Lakes Expo 2022. Tomato-Pepper-Eggplant-Balancing-Nematodes-and-Cover-Crop-Management_Melakeberhan_12_06_2022_9am.pdf (glexpo.com)
- Special Publication - "No matter how you slice it, healthy soil is important"
- Soil Health With Specific Emphasis on Nematodes (.pdf)
- Case Studies for thinking outside the box (.pdf)
Program Interactions with Regional/National Nematology Projects
- W-4186: https://www.nimss.org/projects/view/mrp/outline/18487
- NC-1197: https://www.nimss.org/projects/view/mrp/outline/17936
- NE-1640: https://www.nimss.org/projects/view/mrp/outline/17736
External Nematology Links
- Society of Nematologists
- International Federation of Nematology Societies
- History of Nematology
- Nematode Sites for Kids: Imaginemas
Lartey, I., A. Kravchenko, G. Bonito, and H. Melakeberhan (2022). Parasitic variability of Meloidogyne hapla relative to soil groups and soil health conditions. Nematology 24: DOI 10.1163/15685411-bja10185.
Habteweld, A., A. N. Kravchenko, P. S. Parwinder, and H. Melakeberhan (2022). A nematode community-based integrated productivity efficiency (IPE) model that identifies sustainable soil health outcomes: A case of compost application in carrot production. Soil Systems 6, 35. https://doi.org/10.3390/soilsystems6020035
Widanagea, R., C. Chan, Y-P. Tsanga, B. S. Sipes, H. Melakeberhan, A. Sanchez, A. Mejiac (2022). Enhancing technical efficiency and economic welfare: A case study of smallholder potato farming in the Western Highlands of Guatemala. Economia agro-alimentare/Food Economy 24: doi: 10.3280/ecag2022oa13227
Melakeberhan, H., G. Bonito, A.N. Kravchenko (2021). Application of nematode community analyses-based models towards identifying sustainable soil health management outcomes: A review of the concepts. Soil Systems 5, 32. https://doi.org/10.3390/soilsystems5020032.
Melakeberhan, H., Z. Maung, L. Lartey, S. Yildiz, J. Gronseth, J. Qi, G.N. Karuku, J.W., Kimenju, C. Kwoseh, and T. Adjei-Gyapong (2021). Nematode community-based soil food web analysis of Ferralsol, Lithosol and Nitosol soil groups in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi reveals distinct soil health degradations. Diversity 13: 101. https://doi.org/10.3390/d13030101.
Lartey, I., A. Kravchenko, T. Marsh, and H. Melakeberhan (2021). Meloidogyne hapla occurrence relative to nematode trophic group abundance and soil food web conditions in soils and regions of selected Michigan vegetable production fields. Nematology 23, 1011-1022. https://doi.org/10.1163/15685411-bja10091.
Habteweld, A., Brainard, D. Kravchenko, A. Parwinder, P.S. and Melakeberhan, H. (2020). Characterizing nematode communities in carrot fields and their bioindicator role for soil health. Nematropica 50: 201-210.
Habteweld, A., Brainard, D. Kravchenko, A. Parwinder, P.S. and Melakeberhan, H. (2020). Effects of integrated application of plant-based compost and urea on soil food web, soil properties, and yield and quality of a processing carrot cultivar. Journal of Nematology 52. DOI: 10.21307/jofnem-2020-11.
Thuo, A. K., Karuku, G. N., Kimenju, J. W., Kariuku, G. M., Wendot, P. K. and Melakeberhan, H. (2020). Seasonal variation of nematode assemblage and diversity on selected soil groups in Kenya: Vertisols, Cambisols and Arenosols. Tropical and Subtropical Agroecosystems 23 (2): #63.
Thuo, A. K., Karuku, G. N., Kimenju, J. W., Kariuku, G. M., Wendot, P. K. and Melakeberhan, H. (2020). Factors influencing the relationship between nematode communities and edaphic factors on selected soil groups in Kenya: Vertisols, Cambisols and Arenosols. Tropical and Subtropical Agroecosystems 23(2): #49
Melakeberhan, H., Maung, Z.T.Z., Lee, C-L., Poindexter, S. and Stewart, J. (2018). Soil type-driven variable effects on cover- and rotation-crops, nematodes and soil food web in sugar beet fields reveal a roadmap for developing healthy soils. European Journal of Soil Biology 85, 53-63.
Habteweld, A. W., Brainard, D. C., Kravchenko, A. N., Grewal, P. S. and Melakeberhan, H. (2018). Effects of plant and animal waste-based compost amendments on soil food web, soil properties, and yield and quality of fresh market and processing carrot cultivars. Nematology 20, 147-168. DOI: 10.1163/15685411-00003130
Cheng, Z., H. Melakeberhan, S. Mennan, and P.S. Grewal (2018). Relationship between soybean cyst nematode Heterodera glycines and soil nematode community under long-term tillage and crop rotation. Nematropica 48, 101-115.
Asiedu, O., C. K. Kwoseh, H. Melakeberhan, and T. Adjeigyapong (2017). Nematode distribution in cultivated and undisturbed soils of Guinea Savannah and Semi-deciduous Forest zones of Ghana. Geoscience Frontiers. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gsf.2017.07.010.
Grabau, Z.J., Z.T.Z. Maung, C. Noyes, D. Baas, B.P. Werling, D.C. Brainard, and H. Melakeberhan (2017). Effects of cover crops on Pratylenchus penetrans and the nematode community in carrot production. Journal of Nematology. Journal of Nematology 49, 114-123.
Nair, M.G., Seenivasan, N., Liu, Y., Feick, R.M., Maung, Z.T.A. and Melakeberhan, H. (2015). Leaf constituents of Curcuma spp. suppress Meloidogyne hapla and increase bacterial-feeding nematodes. Nematology, 17:353–361.
Melakeberhan H, W. Wang, A. Kravchenko, and K. Thelen (2015). Effects of agronomic practices on the timeline of Heterodera glycines establishment in a new location. Nematology, 17:705-713.
Melakebehan, H., Z.T.Z, Maung, S. Yildiz, T. Schmidt, T. Teal, J. Qi, J. Gronseth, C. Kwoseh, T. Adjei-Gyapong, V. Saka, M. Lowole, J.W. Kimenju, G.N. Karuku, P.M. Wachira, G. Kariuki, and V.N. Gathaara (2013). Hidden biological secrets that could revolutionize ecosystem based food security and adaptation to climate change in degraded sub-Saharan Africa soils. UNEP Conference on Harnessing Ecosystem Services, Nairobi, Kenya, August 20-21, 2013. http://www.foodsec.aaknet.org/index.php/widgetkit/capacity-building
Melakeberhan, H., and W. Wang (2013). Proof-of-concept for managing Meloidogyne hapla parasitic variability in carrot production soils. Nematology, 14:339-346.
Melakeberhan, H., and W. Wang (2012). Suitability of celery cultivars to populations of Meloidogyne hapla. Nematology, 14:623-629.
Melakeberhan, H., D. Douches, and W. Wang (2012). Interactions of selected potato cultivars and populations of Meloidogyne hapla adapted to the US Midwest soils. Crop Science, 52:1-6.
Mennan, S. and H. Melakeberhan (2010). Effects of biosolid amendment on populations of Meloidogyne hapla in soil with different textures and pHs. Bioresource Technology, 101: 7169-7175.
Melakeberhan, H. (2010). Cross-disciplinary efficiency assessment of agronomic and soil amendment practices designed to suppress biotic yield-limiting factors. Journal of Nematology, 42: 73-77.
Zasada, I., M.F. Avendano, Y.C., Li, T. Logan, H. Melakeberhan., S.R. Koenning, and G.L. Tylka (2008). Potential of alkaline-stabilized biosolid to manage nematodes: Case studies on soybean cyst and root-knot nematodes. Plant Disease 92:4-13.
Melakeberhan, H., and M.F. Avendano (2008). Spatio-temporal consideration of soil conditions and site-specific management of nematodes. Precision Agriculture 9: 341-354.
Melakeberhan. H., S. Mennan, M. Ngouajio, and T. Dudek (2008). Effect of Meloidogyne hapla on multi-purpose use of oilseed radish (Raphanus sativus). Nematology 10: 375-379.
Melakeberhan, H. (2007). Effect of starter nitrogen on soybeans under Heterodera glycines infestation. Plant and Soil 301: 111-121.
Melakeberhan, H., S. Mennan, S. Chen, B. Darby, and T. Dudek (2007). Integrated approaches to understanding and managing Meloidogyne hapla populations’ parasitic variability. Crop Protection 26:894-902.
Donald, P. A., P.E. Pierson, S.K. St. Martin, P.R. Sellers, G.R. Noel, A.E. MacGuidwin, J. Faghihi, V.R. Ferris, C.R. Grau, D.J. Jardine, H. Melakeberhan, T.L. Niblack, W.C. Stienstra, G.L. Tylka, T. A. Wheeler, and D.S. Wysong (2006). Assessing Heterodera glycines-resistant and susceptible cultivar yield response. Journal of Nematology, 38: 76-82.
Melakeberhan, H. (2006). Fertiliser use efficiency of soybean cultivars infected with Meloidogyne incognita and Pratylenchus penetrans. Nematology, 8: 129-137.
Selected Publications updated April 2022
See Abbreviated CV for a full list
Managing Nematodes, Cover Crops, and Soil Health in Diverse Cropping Systems
Published on May 3, 2021
No Matter How You Slice It, Healthy Soil Is Important
Published on July 26, 2015