Interaction of Meloidogyne incognita and Water Stress in Two Cotton Cultivars

T. L. Kirkpatrick, D. M. Oosterhuis, S. D. Wullschleger


A series of controlled-environment experiments were conducted to elucidate the effects of Meloidogyne incognita on host physiology and plant-water relations of two cotton (Gossypium hitsuture) cultivars that differed in their susceptibility to nematode infection. Inoculation of M. incognita-resistant cultivar Auburn 634 did not affect growth, stomatal resistance, or components of plant-water potential relative to uninoculated controls. However, nematode infection of the susceptible cultivar Stoneville 506 greatly suppressed water flow through intact roots. This inhibition exceeded 28% on a root-length basis and was similar to that observed as a consequence of severe water stress in a high evaporative demand environment. Nematodes did not affect the components of leaf water potential, stomatal resistance, transpiration, or leaf temperature. However, these factors were affected by the interaction of M. incognita and water stress. Our results indicate that M. incognita infection may alter host-plant water balance and may be a significant factor in early-season stress on cotton seedlings. Key words: cotton, Gossypium hirsutum, Meloidogyne incognita, nematode, root-knot nematode, water stress.

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