WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University researchers have identified several soybean varieties that grow well in areas of the Midwest like southern Indiana and are resistant to root-knot nematodes, a plant-destroying parasite with a recently confirmed presence in that part of the state.
The researchers verified that resistance in soybeans to one nematode parasite doesn't predict how well the plant will fight off another nematode species, said Andreas Westphal, assistant professor of plant pathology. Some of the varieties also were resistant to soybean cyst nematode.
"We were trying to identify soybean lines that will grow in Indiana and are root-knot nematode resistant," said Westphal, who is senior author of the report published online in the journal Crop Science and will be published in the March-April print issue.
The research team recently published a paper in Plant Health Progress that details the distribution of root-knot nematodes on soybeans in southwestern Indiana.
"We also wanted to find varieties that are nematode-tolerant," Westphal said. "In other words, the nematode is present in the soil, but the plant doesn't suffer a lot of damage."
Root-knot nematodes, including the species Meloidogyne incognita, infect soybeans in sandy loam soil and also reproduce on corn and the highly root-knot nematode-sensitive watermelon, two other major cash crops in the southern part of Indiana. The area, along with additional parts of the state, also suffers from other nematodes, including the soybean cyst nematode (Heterodera glycines). Root-knot nematodes are responsible for a loss of 93,000 tons of soybeans annually in the United States.
Other than resistant and tolerant plants, available methods to rid fields of the destructive organisms are not always practical or economically feasible, Westphal said. For example, chemicals that are effective against nematodes can be dangerous to the environment, peop
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