Harmful effects of mustard bio-fumigants on entomopathogenic nematodes

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Biological Control





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Mustard (Brassica and Sinapis spp.) green manures tilled into the soil preceding potato crops act as bio-fumigants that are toxic to plant–parasitic nematodes, providing an alternative to synthetic soil fumigants. However, it is not known whether mustard green manures also kill beneficial entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs) that contribute to the control of pest insects. We used sentinel insect prey (Galleria mellonella larvae) to measure EPN infectivity in Washington State (USA) potato fields that did or did not utilize mustard green manures. We found a trend toward lower rates of EPN infection in fields, where mustard green manures were applied, compared to those not receiving this cultural control method. In a series of bioassays we then tested whether the application of two mustard (Brassica juncea) cultivars, differing in glucosinolate levels, disrupted the abilities of a diverse group of EPN species to infect insect hosts. Mustard-exposure trials were conducted first in laboratory arenas where EPNs were exposed to mustard extracts suspended in water, and then in larger microcosms in the greenhouse where EPNs were exposed to green manure grown, chopped, and incorporated into field soil. In all trials we used G. mellonella larvae as hosts and included multiple EPN species in the generaSteinernema (Steinernema carpocapsae, Steinernema feltiae, Steinernema glaseri, andSteinernema riobrave) and Heterorhabditis (Heterorhabditis bacteriophora,Heterorhabditis marelatus, and Heterorhabditis megidis). In the laboratory, EPN infection rates were lower in arenas receiving mustard extracts than the control (water), and lower still when EPNs were exposed to extracts from plants with high versus low glucosinolate levels. Results were nearly identical when mustard foliage was soil-incorporated into greenhouse microcosms, except that the negative effects of mustards on EPNs developed more slowly in soil. Significantly, in arenas of both types one EPN species, S. feltiae, appeared to be relatively unaffected by mustard exposure. Together, our results suggest that the use of mustard bio-fumigants for the control of plant–parasitic nematodes has the potential to interfere with the biocontrol of insect pests using EPNs. Thus, it may be difficult to combine these two approaches in integrated pest management programs.

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