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Deception Experiment for Controlling Potato Pest

Chemical Trickery Explored to Help Contain Potato Pest

ScienceDaily (Mar. 18, 2013) — The pale cyst nematode, Globodera pallida, is one bad roundworm. Unchecked, the pest burrows into potato roots to feed, obstructing nutrients and causing stunted growth, wilted leaves and other symptoms that can eventually kill the plant. Severe infestations can cause tuber yield losses of up to 80 percent.

Now, however, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and cooperating scientists are evaluating new ways to control G. pallida using naturally occurring chemicals called egg-hatching factors.

According to lead scientist Roy Navarre, with USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the egg-hatching factors are actually chemicals exuded from the roots of potato and certain other solanaceous plants into surrounding soil. There, the chemicals stimulate G. pallida eggs to hatch.

Normally, this helps ensure the survival of emerging juvenile nematodes. But Navarre's approach calls for using the chemicals to "trick" the eggs into hatching when no potato plants are present, leaving juveniles without food or a host on which to reproduce.

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