A Bioassay to Estimate Root Penetration by Nematodes

David T. Kaplan, Eric L. Davis


An in vitro bioassay with a 96-well microtiter plate was used to study the effect of lectins on burrowing nematode penetration of citrus roots. In each well, one 4-mm root segment, excised from the zone of elongation of rough lemon roots, was buried in 0.88 g dry sand. Addition of a Radopholus citrophilus suspension containing ca. 300 nematodes in 50 [mu]1 test solution completely moistened the sand in each well. The technique assured uniform treatment concentration throughout the medium. Within 16-24 hours, burrowing nematodes penetrated citrus root pieces, primarily through the cut ends. The lectins (100 [mu]g/ml) Concanavalin A (Con A), soybean agglutinin (SBA), wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), and Lotus tetragonolobus agglutinin (LOT) stimulated an increase in penetration of citrus root segments by Radopholus citrophilus. Concentrations as low as 12.5 [mu]g/ml Con A, LOT, and WGA stimulated burrowing nematode penetration of citrus roots. Heat denaturation of the lectins reversed their effect on penetration; however, incubation of nematodes in lectin (25 [mu]g/ml) with 25 mM competitive sugars did not. The reason for enhanced penetration associated with lectins is unclear. Key words: behavior, burrowing nematode, carbohydrate, citrus, lectin, nematode, Radopholus citrophilus, recognition.

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