Dr Magdalena Boshoff

Magdalena specialises in plant nematology and is currently building a nematode reference collection. She is part of the Plant Health/Entomology team

What do you do?

My days are stimulating and varied. I respond to entomology enquiries submitted to the RHS Gardening Advice. On other days I would sample and inspect plants with nematode symptoms in the gardens. Next, I would help with an experiment running down at our Field Research Station or share my knowledge during events such as the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and Science Week. I am also involved with training curatorial staff at our RHS Gardens and would often have to write a piece for The Garden magazine.
Nematodes are my main passion. These microscopic worm-like organisms play a vital role in the health and fertility of our soils and account for 80% of all animals on land. Still many are unaware of the presence and role of these unsung heroes and only know them as either plant pests or for their use in the biological control of certain garden pests.

Since so little is known about the role and impact of plant-parasitic nematodes in British horticulture I am investigating their present in RHS Gardens and creating a reference collection. Accurately identifying and documenting them in this way and noting the host plants they feed on is fundamental to our understanding of how serious the problem is, and if and how we best go about managing their presence.

“There is only so much you can see with your naked eyes but when you pull in a microscope there is a whole new dimension to life and so much to discover and amaze. Luckily I get to use a microscope every day.”

Why is your team’s research important?

The research we do is aimed at informing and creating awareness that will empower gardeners to make informed decisions on garden management.

Projects I’m working on now

  • Building a permanent nematode slide collection to act as a reference when identifying nematodes from infected plant material (Part of RHS Entomology Collections)
  • Plant-parasitic nematode distribution and host range in RHS Gardens/horticulture

Completed projects

  • I worked on the Integrated Gastropod Management Project headed by Dr Hayley Jones


Representing the RHS at conferences, doing a job I absolutely love, and sharing knowledge with young children during events run by the Entomology Team.


  • Boshoff et al. (2015) Trace metal transfer in a soi l– plant – snail microcosm field experiment and the biomarker response of snails. Ecological Indicators, 48, pp636–648
  • Boshoff et al. (2014) Predicting As, Cd, Cu, Pb and Zn in grasses (Agrostis sp. and Poa sp.) and stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) in order to derive soil-plant transfer models based on the pseudo total and exchangeable metal fractions. Science of the Total Environment, 493, pp862–71
  • Boshoff et al. (2014) The impact of metal pollution on soil fauna and microbial activity in grassland ecosystems. Environmental Research,134, pp169–80
  • Boshoff et al. (2013) Organ and species specific accumulation of metals in two land snail species (GastropodaPulmonata). Science of the Total Environment, 449, pp470–81

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