The effect of root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne javanica and M. incognita) on production of the isoflavonoid phytolexin, cajanol, was investigated in pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan) plants infected with Fusarium udum, the causal organism of Fusarium wilt. Seven-day-old seedlings of a wilt-resistant pigeonpea cultivar, ICP 9145 and a wilt-susceptible cultivar, Malawi Local, both of which were moderately susceptible to the nematode, were grown in soil infested with 2000 Meloidogyne juyeniles per plant. A duplicate set of plants remained free from nematodes. Twenty-one days later, all the plants were inoculated with F. udum by stem puncture. Quantitative estimates of cajanol in the vascular tissues were made at intervals up to 15 days after inoculation with the fungus. No external symptoms of wilt appeared in any plants of the wilt-resistant cultivar in the absence of the nematode. However, when inoculated with the nematode, two thirds of the plants developed wilt symptoms. Cajanol levels were lower in both the wilt-resistant and wilt-susceptible plants in the presence of the nematode than in its absence, although this effect was considerably more marked in the wilt-resistant cultivar. These results indicate that the root-knot nematode is capable of breaking resistance of ICP 9145 to Fusarium wilt and that at least part of the mechanism of this effect is retarded cajanol accumulation.
Plant Pathology (1994) 43 (1) 172-176 [DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-3059.1994.tb00567.x]