Allelopathy in the Management of Plant-Parasitic Nematodes

J. M. Halbrendt


There are numerous reports of nematicidal chemicals in crude plant homogenates, leachates, and decomposing residues. These compounds are usually assumed to be secondary metabolites, which serve as chemical defenses against disease and parasites. When such compounds are released into the rhizosphere, they are known as allelochemicals. The possibility exists to exploit allelochemicals for nematode control, and there have been many attempts to use this approach either by rotation, intercropping, or green manure treatments. Results have met with mixed success. Proof of allelochemical activity in field situations is difficult to obtain, but it is evident that some rotation crops are significantly better at reducing nematode populations than others. Rotations with non-host plants may simply deny the nematode population an adequate food source for reproduction (passive suppression), whereas allelopathic crops kill nematodes by the production of toxic compounds (active suppression). Progress toward sustainable agriculture should benefit from studies on allelopathic nematode control. However, grower acceptance of new plant-rotation strategies are based on economic and logistical considerations as well as efficacy. A potential practical application of allelopathic nematode control that involves using rapeseed as a green manure crop to reduce populations of Xiphinema americanum sensu lato in temperate orchards is presented. Key words: allelopathy, amendment, Brassica, glucosinolate, green manure, isothiocyanate, management, nematode, rapeseed, rotation, thioglucosidase, Xiphinema.

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