Parasitic nematodes of plants are microscopic soil-inhabiting organisms. Although they are present in all crop-growing areas, whether in the tropics or under temperate climes, it is predominantly in the tropical regions that these parasites perpetrate extensive damage and crop-yield losses. Market-garden produce, banana, sugar cane and rice are particularly prone to attack.
Chemical control strategies based on regular use of nematicides are to date still the usual recommended means of combating these pests. However, the products are costly, toxic for those who use them and harmful to the environment. Many of them are in any case being taken off the market, which intensifies the need to find other control strategies that are effective and carry no risk for either the users or the environment.
An alternative does present itself, according to IRD researchers and their partners (1). This is to be found among the soil fauna, although their precise role in plant-parasite interactions is still not clear. However, new results from experimentation by that team on the effect of certain earthworm species on the development of nematode-parasitized rice plants showed that these worms enable the plants to grow, in spite of still having substantial nematode populations in their roots. The damage usually caused to these crops is thus counteracted in some way.
Marie Guillaume | alfa
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