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Research was initiated to physically characterize the mitochondrial genomes of several Meloidogyne spp. and host-races, to address questions regarding their systematics and dispersal, and to assess the possibility of developing molecular diagnostics for these nematodes. Techniques were developed for purification and rapid detection of mitochondrial DNA from root-knot nematodes. Mitochondrial DNAs among Meloidogyne spp. were demonstrated to exhibit extensive divergence. The potential for using the rapidly diverging mitochondrial genomes as a diagnostic assay for M. incognita, M. hapla, M. arenaria, and M. javanica is discussed.