Root Knot Nematodes

March 29, 2015 | All About Nematodes

Destructive Nematodes: The Root-Knot Nematode

Root knot nematode damage

Ever have a plant that just wouldn’t grow and thrive no matter what you did? The problem may have been below the soil surface, destructive root knot nematodes.

It is important to understand that there are thousands of species of nematodes, and while some are beneficial (like the nematodes produced by BioLogic) many are detrimental to plants, animals and people. Root-knot nematodes are one of the most destructive plant-parasitic nematodes and can cause extreme agricultural damage. The root-knot nematodes cause plant roots to grow knots or galls which inhibit plant growth. Different species of root-knot nematodes are found worldwide and frequently cause plant damage and reduced yields. Additionally, root-knot nematodes can cause plants to have increased susceptibility to other plant stresses like drought or disease. Plants that are especially vulnerable to root-knot nematodes include tomatoes, eggplant, watermelon, soybeans and bell peppers.

Steinernema feltiae, the beneficial nematode in BioLogic’s Scanmask, have been shown to reduce the population of root-knot nematodes. In a study done on root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne) it was determined that the application of beneficial nematodes (insect parasitic, like those found in Scanmask) could reduce the number of root knot eggs that hatched and inhibit the hatchlings from infecting plants. The full study can be read here.

In the study, root-knot nematodes were used to infect tomato seedlings. Several different species of beneficial nematodes were then applied to the soil of these plants. The number of knots (or galls) were counted after nine weeks, with the application of Steinernema feltiae nematodes reducing the number of knots that developed each time.

T1 is the control (untreated root knot nematodes) and T8 is the application of Steinernema feltiae

There is some debate as to why the beneficial nematodes have this effect on the root-knot nematodes, it is unclear whether the nematodes produce a toxin that controls the root-knot nematodes or if their symbiotic bacteria does.

However, it is important to treat plants early since once the knots have developed the nematodes do not have a significant effect. It is recommended to treat with beneficial nematodes like Biologic’s Scanmask at planting. A small garden can be easily treated or protected against root-knot nematodes with our 10M Scanmask Spray.