The soybean cyst nematode sucks the nutrients out of soybean roots, causing more than $1 billion in soybean yield losses in the U.S. each year. A new study finds that one type of fungi can cut the nematodes’ reproductive success by more than half.
The researchers report their findings in the journal Plant Disease.
Previous studies have found that fungi in the soil that form mutually beneficial relationships with soybeans and other plants can influence the success of plant parasitic nematodes, including SCN. But the effectiveness of using these “arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi” to thwart plant parasitic fungi varies from study to study, making growers reluctant to embrace this as a method of control, Hartman said.
“In this study, we focused on five different species of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi to see if they differed in their ability to protect soybeans against SCN,” Pawlowski said.
The researchers inoculated young soybean plants with fungi and SCN in greenhouse experiments. By the end of the experiment, all five fungal species had reduced the number of SCN cysts in the roots. The lowest number of cysts occurred on plants inoculated with the fungus Funneliformis mosseae. These averaged 10 cysts per plant. Soybean plants that were not inoculated with fungi accumulated 75 or more cysts per plant.
“Each cyst may contain hundreds of nematode eggs,” Hartman said.
Further experiments with F. mosseae revealed that exposure to the fungus reduced the number of juvenile nematodes on the plants by more than half.
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