Population Dynamics of Meloidogyne arenaria and Pasteuria penetrans in a Long-Term Crop Rotation Study

Patricia Timper


The endospore-forming bacterium Pasteuria penetrans is an obligate parasite of root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne spp.). The primary objective of this study was to determine the effect of crop sequence on abundance of P. penetrans. The experiment was conducted from 2000 to 2008 at a field site naturally infested with both the bacterium and its host Meloidogyne arenaria and included the following crop sequences: continuous peanut (Arachis hypogaea) (P-P-P) and peanut rotated with either 2 years of corn (Zea mays) (C-C-P), 1 year each of cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) and corn (Ct-C-P), or 1 year each of corn and a vegetable (V-C-P). The vegetable was a double crop of sweet corn and eggplant (Solanum melongena). A bioassay with second-stage juveniles (J2) of M. arenaria from a greenhouse (GH) population was used to estimate endospore abundance under the different crop sequences. A greater numerical increase in endospore densities was expected in the P-P-P and V-C-P sequences than in the other sequences because both peanut and eggplant are good hosts for M. arenaria. However, endospore densities, as determined by bioassay, did not substantially increase in any of the sequences during the 9-year experiment. To determine whether the nematode population had developed resistance to the resident P. penetrans, five single egg-mass (SEM) lines from the field population of M. arenaria were tested alongside the GH population for acquisition of endospores from the field soil. Four of the five SEM lines acquired 9 to 14 spores/J2 whereas the GH population and one of the SEM lines acquired 3.5 and 1.8 spores/J2, respectively. Endospore densities estimated with the four receptive SEM lines were highest in the P-P-P plots (14-20 spores/J2), intermediate in the V-C-P plots (6-7 spores/J2), and lowest in the Ct-C-P plots (< 1 spore/J2). These results indicate that the field population of M. arenaria is heterogeneous for attachment of P. penetrans endospores. Moreover, spore densities increased under intensive cropping of hosts for M. arenaria, but the GH population of the nematode was not receptive to spore attachment. However, previously, the GH population was very receptive to spore acquisition from this field site. One explanation for this inconsistency is that the M. arenaria population in the field became resistant to the dominant subpopulation of P. penetrans that had been present, and this led to the selection of a different subpopulation of the bacterium that is incompatible with the GH population.


Arachis hypogaea; biological control; crop rotation; peanut; root-knot nematode

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