Biotech Updates

Filamentous Fungus may Effectively Control Sugarcane Nematodes

April 16, 2014

Phytoparasitic nematodes are one of the major pests of sugarcane. One of these destructive nematodes is the Criconemoides sp. They can only be controlled with the application of highly toxic chemicals which are mostly discouraged due to their undesirable secondary effects such as high costs as well as environmental and health hazards. Because of this, the use of biological control against these nematodes is being considered, specifically the nematophagous fungi.

Nematophagous fungi are natural enemies and an effective control agent against phytoparasitic nematodes. However, their population in the soil has greatly decreased due to repeated application of fertilizers and pesticides. A recent study isolated a fungus, Purpureocillium lilacinum from the sugarcane nematode Criconemoides sp. and tested its pathogenicity on the nematode population in Veracruz, Mexico. They monitored the in vitro infection process of Criconemoides sp. as well as the effect of the fungus on nematodes in greenhouse using naturally infested soil and plants.

Blastospores and mycelia from the fungi were observed within the body of the nematode within only 48 hours of infection. The population of these nematodes was significantly lower in the biocontrol than in the control treatment after only ten days from the application of the fungus. The fungus used in the experiment efficiently reduced the population of nematodes. However, field testing of this fungus should be conducted in order to determine its potential effectiveness under field crop conditions.