Evaluating the densities and distribution of root-lesion nematodes (Pratylenchus spp.) in wheat grown in Canterbury, New Zealand
Keywords:population density, wheat, soil properties, morphology, Pratylenchus neglectus, Pratylenchus thornei
Species of root-lesion nematode (Pratylenchus spp.) are associated with significant reductions in wheat yield in wheat-growing regions around the world. Of these, Pratylenchus thornei and P. neglectus are known to cause the highest damage to the Australasian wheat industry. New Zealand is known to produce high wheat yields on a per-hectare basis yet little research has been conducted to date to determine the effects of Pratylenchus spp. on the production of wheat in New Zealand. Therefore, as the first step towards filling this knowledge gap, the current research focused on conducting surveys to determine the population densities and distribution of Pratylenchus spp. in wheat-growing regions in Canterbury, South Island, New Zealand. Surveys were conducted at ten selected sites that were geographically distinct from each other. At six of the ten sites, lesion nematode populations were reported to be above the recorded Australian threshold of 2000 nematodes per kg of soil. In Australia, it’s been recorded that around 50% yield reductions can occur in intolerant wheat varieties when population densities reaches this number. Differences in population density within each location was also observed indicating the uneven distribution of lesion nematodes within a field. Morphological measurements of the nematodes collected from multiple sites during this study confirmed the presence of P. thornei and P. neglectus in Canterbury wheat-producing areas indicating a potential threat to the New Zealand wheat industry by root-lesion nematodes. Further studies need to be conducted to fully understand the situation and to develop management strategies to mitigate threats from nematodes.