Impact of Plant Nutrition on Pratylenchus penetrans Infection of Prunus avium Rootstocks


  • Haddish Melakeberhan
  • George W. Bird
  • Rebecca Gore


A hypothesis that cherry rootstocks grown under optimal nutrient conditions are affected less by Pratylenchus penetrans infection than those grown under deficient nutrient conditions was tested by growing four Prunus avium L. rootstocks ('Mazzard', 'Mahaleb', 'GI148-1', and 'GI148-8') at a soil pH of 7.0 over a period of 3 months under greenhouse conditions (25 ± 2ºC). Pratylenchus penetrans was inoculated at 0 (control) or 1,500 nematodes per g fresh root weight for a total of 3,600, 4,200, 10,500, and 11,400 per plant on Mazzard, Mahaleb, GI148-1, and GI148-8, respectively, with nutrients (commercial fertilizer) applied once at planting (deficient) or twice weekly (optimal). The experiment was repeated once. The optimum nutrient regime resulted in greater soil nutrient levels and plant growth; higher leaf concentrations of N, P, K, and Mg; and fewer P. penetrans than under the deficient nutrient regime. The addition of fertilizer either may increase nematode mortality in the soil or improve rootstock resistance to nematode infection. Increases in Ca in leaves from the nutrient-deficient and nematode-infected treatments suggested the plants were physiologically stressed. The Pf/Pi ratios indicated that these rootstocks may have had resistance to P. penetrans; however, because of the dominant role of nutrition in the experimental design, the question of resistance could not be properly addressed. Key words: Cherry, fertilizer, lesion nematode, nematode, nutrition, Pratylenchus penetrans, Prunus avium, resistance, rootstock.