Ditylenchus dipsaci Infestation of Trifolium repens. II. Dynamics of Infestation Development


  • G. S. Griffith
  • R. Cook
  • K. A. Mizen


Trifolium repens (white clover) stolons were inoculated with Ditylenchus dipsaci (stem nematode), and the development of resulting infestations was monitored. Nematodes initially remained confined to superficial locations, concentrating in petiole axils near inoculation points. They were able to migrate slowly from the inidal inoculation points and infest adjacent axils, especially in regions near the stolon tip. As time progressed, in some axils, nematodes migrated through the stolon epidermis and colonized slowly expanding subepidermal pockets of host tissue (ca. 0.2-mm length of stolon/day). In these loci nematodes established exponentially increasing populations, but the rates of locus expansion remained constant, indicating that locus expansion was limited by unidentified host-dependent factors. As a result of increasing population pressure within subepidermal loci, J4 entered a "diapause" state and the rate of egg production by adults declined, thereby reducing rate of population growth to more sustainable levels. Typically, these populations peaked at ca. 10,000 individuals in ca. 160 days occupying 3-cm lengths of stolon. Thereafter, heavily infested regions of stolons started to die, leading to the formation of longitudinal splits in their epidermis. In other axils, nematodes did not migrate into the stolons but remained confined to axils. Some of these populations increased a hundred-fold in 95 days, with population growth ending when petioles started to die. Host plant stolon morphology was affected only when subepidermal stolon populations developed high population levels ( 100 nematodes) within close proximity ( 2 cm) to active terminal meristems. This occurred either when axillary buds became active on previously infested nodes or when nematodes established endoparasitic populations at locations near the stolon tip during winter and spring, when the rate of stolon extension was limited by low light intensity. Affected stolon tips could "escape" from the influence of such infestations when light intensity and temperature increased. Nematode activity was limited by low temperature rather than light intensity. Global warming is likely to lead to greater damage to infested plants during the winter and early spring because the predicted milder winter temperatures will enhance nematode activity- but not necessarily promote stolon growth. Key wards: behavior, clover, Ditylenchus difosaci, host-parasite relationship, nematode infestation, population dynamics, stem nematode, Trifolium repens.