The effect of the host plant on the efficacy of Verticillium chlamydosporium as a biological control agent for root-knot nematodes was investigated in four experiments. The growth of the fungus in the rhizosphere differed significantly with different plant species, the brassicas kale and cabbage supporting the most extensive colonization. The presence of nematodes in roots increased the growth of the fungus on most plants, and this effect was associated with the emergence of egg masses on the root surface; the presence of Meloidogyne incognita did not stimulate growth of the fungus in the rhizosphere until 5 weeks after the addition of infective juveniles to soil. The susceptibility of the plant host to M. incognita attack influenced the numbers of nematode eggs parasitized by the fungus. The control of the nematode was less effective on tomato roots, which produced large galls as a result of nematode infection compared with control on potato roots where galls were smaller, despite the greater abundance of the fungus in the rhizosphere of tomato plants. In large galls, a significant proportion of the egg masses remained embedded in the roots and was isolated from the fungus which was confined to the rhizosphere. Hence, the plant species has a marked effect on the efficacy of V. chlamydosporium as a biological control agent.
Biocontrol Science and Technology (1996) 6 (4) 539-548 [DOI:10.1080/09583159631172]