Ecological Relationships between <I>Meloidogyne spartinae</I> and Salt Marsh Grasses in Connecticut


  • J. A. Lamondia
  • W. H. Elmer


Distichlis spicata, Juncus gerardii, Meloidogyne spartinae, root-knot nematode, salt marsh decline, Spartina alterniflora, Spartina cynosuroides, Spartina patens


Healthy specimens of selected grasses were collected from salt marshes and grown in the greenhouse. Plants were inoculated with Meloidogyne spartinae to determine the host range of this nematode. After 12 weeks, Spartina alterniflora plants formed root galls in response to infection and increased M. spartinae populations. Spartina patens, Spartina cynosuroides, Juncus gerardii and Distichlis spicata were non-hosts. In order to determine the natural distribution of M. spartinae in dieback areas, S. alterniflora plants were sampled from transects adjacent to dieback areas in Madison, CT, at low tide. Plants were sampled at the top or the creek and at 1-m intervals to the lowest area of plant growth at the low tide water's edge. Five samples were taken over an elevation drop of 90 cm. Two transects were taken each day on 21 June and 5 July 2007, and one transect was taken on 31 October 2007. Meloidogyne spartinae galls per gram root were higher at the higher elevations. In late June and early July 2007, M. spartinae developed more quickly in the higher elevations, perhaps because peat and sediments were drier and warmer away from low tide water levels. The effects of M. spartinae on S. alterniflora and the role of the nematode in marsh decline and dieback in the northeast United States remain to be determined.