105 - Biocontrol of the root-knot nematode Meloidogyne incognita in Kenyan tomato varieties using habitat-adapted endophytes
Grundler, Florian M. W.
Kariuki, George M.
Bogner, Catherine Wanja
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Plant parasitic nematodes, especially root-knot nematodes, pose a major threat to the increasingly important tomato production in the coastal humid tropics of East Africa. Tomato endophytes collected from Kenya were identified and screened for their biocontrol activities in the tomato cultivar moneymaker, various local Kenyan varieties and AVRDC accessions. In particular, Trichoderma and Fusarium oxysporum isolates could significantly reduce root-knot nematode egg densities when compared to the non-inoculated control. Split-root experiments and synchronized infection studies have shown that the fungus initiates certain systemic plant defense responses that affect both penetration and overall development of the nematode. In order to gain a deeper understanding of the induced defense responses leading to this reduction in nematode infection, specific tomato mutants that are impaired in particular defense pathways are analyzed with respect to root-knot nematode colonization in the presence and absence of the beneficial endophytes. At the same time, the expression of several marker genes and the activity of certain enzymes, all involved in the various induced defense responses, are being monitored. In addition, the effects of fungal metabolites on M. incognita and the initiation of defense responses is being studied. The use of habitat-adapted endophytic fungi may provide a safe, efficient, reliable and affordable approach to control root-knot nematodes.