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Tiny creatures in soil that attack plants have shown the ability to survive for at least three years in new research, giving new insights into the bio-security threats posed by passenger travel and trade between countries. The creatures, called nematodes, are very small worm-like organisms – and are estimated to cause billions of dollars of crop damage worldwide each year. They can survive in dried out, seemingly harmless soil attached to a shoe or a freight container coming across the border – and can be extremely hardy and have both beneficial and detrimental impacts. Lynn Freeman speaks with a research scientist at AgResearch, Mark McNeil