Relationship between Meloidogyne arenaria and Aflatoxin Contamination in Peanut

P. Timper, D. M. Wilson, C. C. Holbrook, B. W. Maw


Damaged and developing kernels of peanut (Arachis hypogaea) are susceptible to colonization by fungi in the Aspergillus flavus group which, under certain conditions, produces aflatoxins prior to harvest. Our objective was to determine whether infection of peanut roots and pods by Meloidogyne arenaria increases aflatoxin contamination of the kernels when peanut is subjected to drought stress. The experiment was a completely randomized 2-x-2 factorial with 6 replicates/treatment. The treatment factors were nematodes (plus and minus M. arenaria) and fungus (plus and minus A. flavus inoculum). The experiment was conducted in 2001 and 2002 in microplots under an automatic rain-out shelter. In treatments where A. flavus inoculum was added, aflatoxin concentrations were high ( 1,000 ppb) and not affected by nematode infection; in treatments without added fungal inoculum, aflatoxin concentrations were greater (P = 0.05) in kernels from nematode-infected plants (1,190 ppb) than in kernels from uninfected plants (79 ppb). There was also an increase in aflatoxin contamination of kernels with increasing pod galling (r² = 0.83 in 2001, r² = 0.43 in 2002; P = 0.04). Colonization of kernels by A. flavus increased with increasing pod galling (r² = 0.18; P = 0.04) in 2001 but not in 2002. Root-knot nematodes may have a greater role in enhancing aflatoxin contamination of peanut when conditions are not optimal for growth and aflatoxin production by fungi in the A. flavus group.


aflatoxin; arachis hypogaea; aspergillus flavus; a. parasiticus; interaction; meloidogyne arenaria; peanut; root-knot nematode

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