Potential of Leguminous Cover Crops in Management of a Mixed Population of Root-knot Nematodes (Meloidogyne spp.)

Kingsley Osei, Simon R. Gowen, Barbara Pembroke, Rick L. Brandenburg, David L. Jordan


Root-knot nematode is an important pest in agricultural production worldwide. Crop rotation is the only management strategy in some production systems, especially for resource poor farmers in developing countries. A series of experiments was conducted in the laboratory with several leguminous cover crops to investigate their potential for managing a mixture of root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne arenaria, M. incognita, M. javanica). The root-knot nematode mixture failed to multiply on Mucuna pruriens and Crotalaria spectabilis but on Dolichos lablab the population increased more than 2- fold when inoculated with 500 and 1,000 nematodes per plant. There was no root-galling on M. pruriens and C. spectabilis but the gall rating was noted on D. lablab. Greater mortality of juvenile root-knot nematodes occurred when exposed to eluants of roots and leaves of leguminous crops than those of tomato; 48.7% of juveniles died after 72 h exposure to root eluant of C. spectabilis. The leaf eluant of D. lablab was toxic to nematodes but the root eluant was not. Thus, different parts of a botanical contain different active ingredients or different concentrations of the same active ingredient. The numbers of root-knot nematode eggs that hatched in root exudates of M. pruriens and C. spectabilis were significantly lower (20% and 26%) than in distilled water, tomato and P. vulgaris root exudates (83%, 72% and 89%) respectively. Tomato lacks nematotoxic compounds found in M. pruriens and C. spectabilis. Three months after inoculating plants with 1,000 rootknot nematode juveniles the populations in pots with M. pruriens, C. spectabilis and C. retusa had been reduced by approximately 79%, 85% and 86% respectively; compared with an increase of 262% nematodes in pots with Phaseolus vulgaris. There was significant reduction of 90% nematodes in fallow pots with no growing plant. The results from this study demonstrate that some leguminous species contain compounds that either kill root-knot nematodes or interfere with hatching and affect their capacity to invade and develop within their roots. M. pruriens, C. spectabilis and C. retusa could be used with effect to decrease a mixed field populations of root-knot nematodes.

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