Highly Potent Extracts from Pea (Pisum sativum) and Maize (Zea mays) Roots Can Be Used to Induce Quiescence in Entomopathogenic Nematodes
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Root exudates can play an important role in plant-nematode interactions. Recent studies have shown that the root cap exudates obtained from several plant species trigger a state of dormancy or quiescence in various genera of nematodes. This phenomenon is not only of fundamental ecological interest, but also has application potential if the plant-produced compound(s) could be used to control harmful nematodes or help to prolong the shelf-life of beneficial entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs). The identification of the compound(s) involved in quiescence induction has proven to be a major challenge and requires large amounts of active material. Here, we present a high-throughput method to obtain bioactive root extracts from flash-frozen root caps of green pea and maize. The root cap extract obtained via this method was considerably more potent in inducing quiescence than exudate obtained by a previously used method, and consistently induced quiescence in the EPN Heterorhabditis megidis, even after a 30-fold dilution. Extracts obtained from the rest of the root were equally effective in inducing quiescence. Infective juveniles (IJs) of H. megidis exposed to these extracts readily recovered from their quiescent state as soon as they were placed in moist soil, and they were at least as infectious as the IJs that had been stored in water. Excessive exposure of IJs to air interfered with the triggering of quiescence. The implications of these results and the next steps towards identification of the quiescence-inducing compound(s) are discussed from the perspective of applying EPN against soil-dwelling insect pests.
KeywordsEntomopathogenic nematodes Quiescence factor Exudate Extract EPN formulation Crop pests
We thank the members of the FARCE laboratory for their frequent assistance and relevant discussion. We especially thank Drs. Jinwon Kim and Raquel Campos Herrera for fruitful discussions and their helpful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. We also thank Andermatt Biocontrol SA (Switzerland), and DSP SA (Switzerland) for providing EPNs and seeds, respectively. This work was supported by an economic stimulus grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation.
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