Predicting Damage of Meloidogyne incognita on Watermelon

Lijuan Xing, Andreas Westphal


Quantitative growth response of watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) sensitive to Meloidogyne incognita is poorly understood. Determination of soil population densities of second-stage juveniles (J2) of M. incognita with Baermann funnel extraction often is inaccurate at low soil temperatures. In greenhouse experiments, three sandy soils were inoculated with dilution series of population densities of eggs or J2 of M. incognita and planted in small containers to watermelon ‘Royal Sweet’ or subjected to Baermann funnel extraction. After five weeks of incubation in the greenhouse bioassay plants in egg-inoculated soils, gall numbers on watermelon roots related more closely to inoculated population densities than J2 counts after Baermann funnel extraction. In April 2004, perpendicularly-inserted tubes (45-cm diameter, 55-cm deep) served as microplots where two methyl bromide-fumigated sandy soils were inoculated with egg suspensions of M. incognita at 0, 100, 1,000 or 10,000 eggs/100 cm3 of soil in 15-cm depth. At transplanting of 4-week old watermelon seedlings, soils were sampled for the bioassay or for extraction of J2 by Baermann funnel. In the Seinhorst function of harvested biomass in relation to nematode numbers, decline of biomass with increasing population densities of M. incognita was accurately modeled by the inoculated eggs (R2 = 0.93) and by the counts of galls on the bioassay roots (R2 = 0.98); but poorly by J2 counts (R2 = 0.68). Threshold levels of watermelon top dry weight to M. incognita were 122 eggs/100 cm3 soil, 1.6 galls on bioassay roots, or 3.6 J2/100 cm3 of soil. Using the bioassay in early spring for predicting risk of nematode damage appeared useful in integrated pest management systems of watermelon.

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