Some aspects of the interaction of the bacterial parasite Pasteuria penetrans and the root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne spp.) were investigated in laboratory and pot experiments. The variable spore attachment on juveniles exposed to water suspensions of the bacterium is probably attributed to differential susceptibility of biotypes within a heterogeneous Meloidogyne population. The relationship between spore concentration and attachment level is not linear over a range of spore dosages, indicating that even at very high spore concentrations the number of spores capable of attachment may not be present in excess and it is difficult to ensure sufficient numbers of spores to ensure infection will attach to all nematodes. Attempts to apply the bacterium in conditions such as might occur in seedbeds did not suppress nematode multiplication after transplanting in nematode-infested soil, indicating that the only effective application method is a thorough spore distribution in the planting sites. Two major constraints were revealed: high levels of spore attachment to juveniles does not always guarantee a significant reduction of egg laying and this is greatly influenced by the Meloidogyne biotype. Furthermore, the cumulative effect of the parasite in reducing Meloidogyne populations over several crop cycles was less than expected as the bacterium reduced intra-specific competition for the food supply and the less damaged root enabled many nematodes to survive.
Plant Pathology (1997) 46 (1) 44-55 [DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-3059.1997.d01-211.x]