Plant-parasitic nematodes associated with Ammophila arenaria (L.) Link in Portuguese coastal sand dunes

C. Schreck Reis, H. Freitas, W. H. van der Putten


Portuguese sand dunes extend over a total length of 450 Km and include more than half of the country’s coastline. In the mobile part of the Portuguese sand dunes, Ammophila arenaria (L.) Link (Marram Grass) is the dominant and, often, the only naturally occurring plant species. The unrivalled contribution of A. arenaria to sand stabilization and dune formation is related to its extensive root and rhizome system and its vertical growth, stimulated by sand deposition. Because work on plant parasitic nematodes in dunes has mostly been done in more northerly temperate climate regions, little information on the warmer and drier climate regions is available. Therefore, in order to enhance knowledge on nematodes found in dunes in such regions, we present results of a survey of plant parasitic nematodes in the roots and rhizosphere of A. arenaria in two dune systems along the Portuguese coast. In the most northern population, the number and diversity of nematodes was higher than in the south of the country, and A. arenaria plants were more vigorous. Only two of the three endoparasitic nematode genera known to parasitize A. arenaria in north-western Europe were present in the Portuguese dunes.

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