Dr. Bernard

I’ve been a member of the Entomology and Plant Pathology Department since 1977, when I was hired fresh out of graduate school by Dr. Carroll Southards. I was born and raised in Detroit. My passion for nature developed early (four years old!) and eventually led me to the entomology program at Michigan State University, where I received the B.S. degree in 1972 and an M.S. degree in 1974. My M.S. work, under the supervision of the late C. W. Laughlin. I continued in nematology at the University of Georgia (Ph.D., 1977) under Richard S. Hussey, studying the movement of nematicides in soil and the population dynamics of cotton nematodes. In my tenure at Tennessee I have worked extensively on management of root-knot nematodes, nematode community structure in woody ornamental nurseries and annual crops, and nematode systematics. I have also maintained a significant effort in the taxonomy of Collembola and Protura. Most of these endeavors have been successful in large part to the excellent graduate students I have had over the years; their successes are major sources of satisfaction to me. My extensive cross-training in entomology, plant pathology and nematology has allowed me to serve as a swing person in the department, teaching not only nematology but also portions of entomology and plant pathology courses. Another important aspect has been my long-term involvement in scientific editing. I have served as the Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Nematology, and for many years now have been an editor for the megajournal Zootaxa.

Research Focus

My research interests are extremely broad-based and my various skill sets have proven to be useful in a number of ways. My main focus is on the taxonomy and community composition of soil micro- and mesofauna, with emphasis on nematodes, springtails (Collembola) and Protura. Currently I collaborate with colleagues in the U.S.A., Australia, Iran and Ukraine on systematics of Collembola and Protura. My lab has high-end light (BF, PC, DIC) microscopes equipped with high-resolution cameras, so we do a ton of imaging that enhances our understanding of what we are viewing and improves the publications we develop. Among the current projects:

Post Doctoral Associate Gary Phillips is doing the first extensive survey of nematodes inhabiting millipede intestines. These nematodes are kleptoparasites; they actually eat the bacteria that live in the millipede gut, and do not normally harm the millipede. Nearly every millipede at least 2 mm wide contains nematodes, sometimes exceeding 1,000 in a single intestine. We estimate at least 30 species live in North American millipedes. Most of them are new species and we are actively describing them.

Graduate student Satyendra Pothula is studying the effects of simulated climate and environmental changes on nematode communities. In one experiment, heating cables have been buried in forest and agricultural plots to increase soil temperature by 5C over control plots. In another forest experiment, leaf litter is removed and soil is rototilled periodically in some plots. In both experiments the nematode community is periodically assessed to determine differences among treatments.


Teaching focus

The following is a summary of how I try to relate to graduate students.

  1. Evaluate the entire application package. Every prospective student has potential that is not yet recognized or used. GPAs and GREs provide some evidence of classroom ability but are not infallible predictors of future success.
  2. Understand why a new student wants to work with me, preferably before he/she is accepted into the program. I invest a lot of time in the development of students. They must want to work in my field on a research problem that they find interesting.
  3. Communicate clearly the goals and expectations of the research project, the institution, and the profession. It must be made perfectly clear what needs to be done, how to do it, and how to write it.
  4. Interact frequently and effectively to be sure research and classroom progress is on course.
  5. Listen to the student when he/she mentions personal issues. I mean really listen. With the rapid increase in non-traditional graduate students, they often have a broader, deeper list of entanglements and personal problems that drag on their performance. I try to remember, “I saw the potential in this student, I have invested time and resources in an important project, and we will get through this problem and be successful.”
  6. Reassure students that they are on course and are doing well.
  7. Correct behaviors and habits detrimental to progress toward the next level.
  8. Reward the progressing student in meaningful ways.


EPP 520–Nematology
EPP 313 – Plant Pathology (two weeks of nematology)
EPP 548 – Insect Taxonomy (three weeks on basal hexapods, Psocoptera, Hymenoptera)
FYS 129 – First-year Studies (American film history)
EPP 541, 600, 606 as needed

Ernest C. Bernard

office (865) 974-7947
mobile (865) 603-0550
fax (865) 974-4744

155 Plant Biotechnology Building
2505 EJ Chapman Drive
Knoxville, TN 37996-4560

B.S., Entomology, Michigan State University
M.S., Entomology/Nematology, Michigan State University
Ph.D., Plant Pathology/Nematology, University of Georgia

90% Research, 10% Teaching

Graduate program concentrations
Organismal Biology, Ecology, and Systematics
Sustainable Disease and Integrated Pest Management Systems

Areas of expertise
Nematology, soil zoology, community ecology, basal hexapods, systematics

key words
Bunonematoidea, Collembola, community structure, forensic nematology, kleptoparasites, light microscopy, photomicrography, plant-parasitic nematodes, Protura, soil nematodes , taxonomy

Creative Art Microscope image

Research questions in our laboratory

  • Biodiversity of nematodes, Collembola, and Protura.
  • Effects of forest and grassland disturbance on nematode communities.
  • Forensic value of nematodes in estimation of time of death.
  • Role of Collembola in death of woody ornamental cuttings in nursery beds.

Current lab members

  • Gary Phillips, Ph.D. Post Doctoral Associate
  • Satyendra Pothula, Ph.D. student
  • Chen Ma, visiting scholar
  • Chauncey Whitlock, student assistant

Selected Publications
Bernard, E. C., and J. J. Wynne. 2017. Disparrhopalitesnaasaveqw n. sp. from caves at Wupatki National Monument, Arizona, synonymy of Dietersminthurus Palacios-Vargas, Cuéllar& Vázquez, 1998 with Disparrhopalites Stach, 1956 and composition of Songhaicinae (Collembola: Sminthuridae). Zootaxa 4319:77‒90.

Bernard, E. C. 2017. Arleajudithnajtae n. sp. (Collembola: Isotomidae), a temperate North American member of a Gondwanan genus. Zoosystema 39:87‒93.

Bernard, E.C. & Noe, J.P. 2017. Plant-parasitic nematodes. In: Ownley, B.H and R.T. Trigiano, eds. Plant pathology concepts and laboratory exercises. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, pp. 103‒119.

Bernard, E.C. 2016. Two new genera and five new species of Tullbergiidae (Collembola) from the southern Appalachian Mountains of North America, with redescription of Tullbergia clavata Mills. Zootaxa 4162:451‒478.

Moore, P.A., Wadl, P.A., Skinner, J.A., Trigiano, R.N., Bernard, E.C., Klingeman, W.E. &Dattilo, A.J. 2016. Current knowledge, threats and future efforts to sustain populations of Pityopsisruthii (Asteraceae), an endangered southern Appalachian species. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 143:117‒134.

Phillips, G., Bernard, E.C., Pivar, R.J., Moulton, J.K. & Shelley, R.M. 2016. Coronostomaclaireaen.sp. (Nematoda: Rhabditida: Oxyuridomorpha: Coronostomatidae) from the indigenous milliped Narceusgordanus (Chamberlain, 1943) (Diplopoda: Spirobolida) in Ocala National Forest, Florida. Journal of Nematology 48(3):451‒478.

Powers, T.O., Bernard, E.C., Harris, T., Higgins, R., Olson, M., Olson, S., Lodema, M., Matczyszyn, J., Mullin, P., Sutton, L. & Powers, K.S. 2016. Species discovery and diversity In Lobocriconema (Criconematidae: Nematoda) and related plant-parasitic nematodes from North American ecoregions. Zootaxa 4085:301‒344.

Trigiano, R.N., Bernard, E.C. & Hadziabdic, D. 2016. First report of powdery mildew on whorled sunflower (Helianthus verticillatus) caused by Golovinomycesambrosiae. Plant Disease 100: 1017.

Trigiano, R. N., E. C. Bernard, M. T. Windham, A. S. Windham, T. P. Edwards, and S. L. Boggess. 2016. First report of powdery mildew on henbit (Lamiumamplexicaule) and dead-nettle (L. purpureum) caused by Neoerysiphegaleopsidis in the southern United States. Plant Disease 100 (11): 2332.

Bernard, E. C., F. N. Soto-Adames, and J. J. Wynne. 2015. Collembola of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) with descriptions of five endemic cave-restricted species. Zootaxa 3949(2):239‒267.

For complete list of publications please visit my

Supplemental materials for Publications and videos

Plates 1 and 2 for ABT publication

Youtube video: Millipede Dissections (This video is an interview with Dr. Bernard, and demonstrates dissecting a millipede.)

Youtube video: Identifying Nematodes