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Behavioural response of Meloidogyne incognita to benzyl isothiocyanate

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For more content, see Nematologica.

The breakdown of brassicaceous plant material produces nematotoxic isothiocyanates (ITCs). However, after the incorporation of brassicaceous plant material into soil, many nematodes are likely to be exposed only to sublethal concentrations of these compounds. Although unknown, the effect of these low ITC concentrations on the behaviour of plant-parasitic nematodes could play a role in nematode suppression. To address this question, the behaviour of infective second-stage juveniles (J2) of Meloidogyne incognita was evaluated following in vitro exposure to sublethal concentrations of benzyl isothiocyanate (BITC). Behaviour was qualitatively and quantitatively affected. Overall nematode activity in treatment groups scored visually, and individual nematode movement frequencies, quantified by video assay, were each significantly reduced within 2 h of exposure to 0.01 mM BITC. All responses were dose dependent. Infectivity of BITC-treated J2 of M. incognita on soybean (Glycine max) was measured directly by root staining and gall rating, and indirectly by egg production. All experiments showed significantly reduced infectivity after treatment of J2 with 0.01 mM BITC. In addition, egg production was almost completely eliminated (<5% of control) by 0.03 mM BITC. The correlation between the effect of BITC concentrations on J2 activity and infectivity was positive, with decreased J2 activity and infectivity resulting in decreased egg production. BITC concentrations that do not cause mortality significantly affect the behaviour of M. incognita J2, indicating that sublethal concentrations contribute to the overall nematode suppression by brassicaceous green manures.

Affiliations: 1: USDA-ARS Horticultural Crops Research Laboratory, Corvallis, OR 97330, USA;, Email:; 2: USDA-ARS Nematology Laboratory, Beltsville, MD 20705, USA; 3: Pennsylvania State University, Biglerville, PA 17307, USA


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