Sugar-Cane Weed Community Interactions with Arthropods and Pathogens

  • A. T. Showler
  • T. E. Reagan
  • R. M. Knaus
Mini Review


Polyculture can help stabilize agroecosystems against frequent and severe pest outbreaks. An overview of the published data highlights ecological relationships among weeds, nematodes, arthropods, sugar-cane mosaic virus (SCMV), and the sugar-cane crop itself. Whereas individual studies commonly depict weeds as being either “good” or “bad”, this review is a synthesis of the variable roles and interactions of weeds in sugar-cane in order to provide a realistic perspective on the possibilities of weed interactions in sugar-cane agroecosystems. Conservation of weeds in Louisiana sugar-cane has resulted in more diversified arthropod fauna, higher natural enemy populations, and reduced damage by the sugar-cane borer, Diatraea saccharalis (F.). Weed competition and SCMV infection have each been associated with altered sugar-cane free amino acid accumulations that appeared to play a role in reducing populations of selected phytophagous nematodes. The combination of both weed and SCMV stress factors, however, have been shown to favour higher sugar-cane nematode populations. Although some weeds are alternate hosts for SCMV and its aphid vectors, and ratoon stunting disease (RSD), weed growth has not been linked with higher phytophagous nematode infestations or incidence of RSD. Weeds, if kept below economically competitive densities, may be ecologically and financially sound assets to sugar-cane pest management tactics.

Key Words

Sugar-cane weeds insects pathogens nematodes ecology free amino acids 


La polyculture aide à stabiliser les agroéchosystèmes contre les fréquentes et sévères épidémies d’insectes nuisibles. Une revue de la littérature met en lumière les relations écologiques entre les plantes herbacées, les nématodes, les arthropodes, le virus de la mosaique de la canne à sucre (SCMV), et la culture de la canne à sucre. Ce travail présente une synthèse des rôles et des interactions des plantes herbacées en agroéchosystème de canne à sucre. La présence de plantes herbacées dans les cultures de canne à sucre de Louisiane favorise une faune d’arthropodes diversifiée, des populations élevees d’ennemis naturels, et des dommages moindres par Diatraea saccharalis (F.). La compétition entre les plantes herbacées et les infections (SCMV) furent associées individuellement à l’accumulations d’acides aminés libres dans la canne à sucre ce qui réduirait les populations de certains nématodes phytophages. L’effet combiné du stress causé par les plantes herbacées et la SCMV favorise des populations élevées de nématodes de la canne à sucre. Quoique quelques plantes herbacées ont des hôtes alternatifs pour la SCMV et ses vecteurs aphidiens, et la maladie “ratoon stunting” (RSD), la croissance des plantes herbacées n’est pas liée aux infestations élevées de populations de nématodes ou à l’incidence de RSD. Les plantes herbacées, lorsque maintenues en deça des densités économiques de compétition, semblent apporter des avantages écologiques et financiers aux tactiques de contrôle des populations de ravageurs de la canne à sucre.


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Copyright information

© ICIPE-ICIPE Science Press 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. T. Showler
    • 1
  • T. E. Reagan
    • 2
  • R. M. Knaus
    • 3
  1. 1.Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance/AIDU.S. State DepartmentWashington, DCUSA
  2. 2.Department of Entomology, Louisiana Agricultural Experiment StationLouisiana State University Agricultural CenterBaton RougeUSA
  3. 3.Nuclear Science CenterLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA

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