Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


First parasitic nematodes reported in biofuel crops

Researchers at the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) at the University of Illinois have discovered widespread occurrence of plant-parasitic nematodes in the first reported nematode survey of Miscanthus and switchgrass plants used for biofuels.

Lead researcher Tesfamariam Mekete, a U of I post-doctoral research associate, said the team's first step was to identify potential pathogenic nematodes of these top two energy-yielding cellulosic-ethanol feedstock plants.

"Nematodes are a part of our soil systems," Mekete said. "However, when it comes to potential crops for biofuel production, we simply don't know which nematodes are present in these crops and at what levels."

The 2008-09 nematode survey included samples from 37 Miscanthus and 48 switchgrass plots in Illinois, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, South Dakota and Tennessee.

All sample sites had at least two nematode species that have been reported to reduce biomass in most monocotyledon hosts. The damaging population thresholds for these nematodes to Miscanthus and switchgrass are still unknown. However, the population densities encountered may present a potential risk to biofuels production when compared with threshold densities reported on other monocotyledon hosts, Mekete said.

Researchers discovered lesion (Pratylenchus), dagger (Xiphinema), needle (Longidorus), lance (Hoplolaimus), stunt (Tylenchorhynchus), spiral (Helicotylenchus), and ring (Criconema) in Miscanthus and switchgrass. These nematodes have previously been reported to cause damage to several plant species such as corn, bent grass, switchgrass and turf grasses.

"The high levels of nematodes found in our survey and the damage symptoms observed in infected roots suggest parasitism may contribute to the decline of biomass production," Mekete said.

Needle nematodes, discovered at high levels in the sandy soils of Havana, Ill., and Georgia, caused visible stunting of lateral roots and destruction of the fibrous root system. Mekete's team hopes to do further research in Havana to study the interaction between this nematode and biomass yield.

Researchers are now studying damage thresholds of lesion, root-knot and needle nematodes to Miscanthus and switchgrass under greenhouse conditions. Future studies will include host suitability and population dynamics of the most prevalent nematodes associated with these perennial grasses.

In addition to discovering information on the distribution, presence, abundance and identification of these nematodes, researchers also developed species-specific DNA tests to help identify nematodes so future research can focus on developing control tactics.

"Diseases and pests have the potential to cause significant constraints on biomass production, putting the crops at risk for reductions in biomass yield and quality," Mekete said. "Of the many pests and diseases, plant-parasitic nematodes are of great economic importance because they can directly influence plant biomass and predispose plants to attack by other soil-borne pathogens."

Portions of this research have been published in GCB Bioenergy. The research was funded by EBI. The research team included Tesfamariam Mekete, Kimberly Reynolds, Horacio Lopez-Nicora, Michael Gray and Terry Niblack of the U of I.

The EBI is the world's largest public/private consortium dedicated to the development of bioenergy and the holistic assessment of a future biofuels industry. It is a partnership of three public institutions and a corporate sponsor: the University of California, Berkeley; the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and the international energy company BP. Now in its third year, the EBI is comprised of more than 300 researchers pursuing 60 programs and projects. BP has committed $500 million over 10 years to support the institute.

Jennifer Shike | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration
25.10.2016 | eLife

nachricht Phenotype at the push of a button
25.10.2016 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Enormous dome in central Andes driven by huge magma body beneath it

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration

25.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Deep down fracking wells, microbial communities thrive

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>