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Attractant and repellent effects of sweet potato root exudates on the potato rot nematode, Ditylenchus destructor

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Potato rot nematode (Ditylenchus destructor) is one of the most damaging pests of sweet potato in the northern region of China. Glasshouse and field experiments were conducted to explore the main invasion route used by potato rot nematodes during infection of sweet potato plants. The nematode’s host location behaviour was also investigated. Results suggested that substantial yield losses of sweet potato caused by D. destructor parasitism depend upon the existence of wounds on seedling roots. Therefore, reducing the number of nematodes that invade through such wounds would be an effective control method. We found that root exudates and extracts from underground stems of both resistant (cv. Zhenghong 22) and susceptible (cv. Lizixiang) sweet potato cultivars attracted potato rot nematodes. In addition, a strong repellent effect of latex against these nematodes was observed in both cultivars. Interestingly, octadecyl-(Z)-p-coumarate, a component of sweet potato latex, acted as a repellent for potato rot nematodes, while hexadecyl- and eicosyl-(Z)-p-coumarates did not. These findings provide a basis for understanding the mechanism underlying the host location behaviour of potato rot nematodes and can help in designing new nematode control methods.

Affiliations: 1: Xuzhou Sweet Potato Research Centre, Key Laboratory of Biology and Genetic Improvement of Sweet Potato, Ministry of Agriculture, Jiangsu, Xuzhou 221131, P.R. China


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