Lethal Temperature for Pinewood Nematode, Bursaphelenchus xylophilus, in Infested Wood Using Microwave Energy


  • Kelli Hoover
  • Adnan Uzunovic
  • Brad Gething
  • Angela Dale
  • Karen Leung
  • Nancy Ostiguy
  • John J. Janowiak


To reduce the risks associated with global transport of wood infested with pinewood nematode Bursaphelenchus xylophilus, microwave irradiation was tested at 14 temperatures in replicated wood samples to determine the temperature that would kill 99.9968% of nematodes in a sample of ≥ 100,000 organisms, meeting a level of efficacy of Probit 9. Treatment of these heavily infested wood samples (mean of > 1,000 nematodes/g of sapwood) produced 100% mortality at 56°C and above, held for 1 min. Because this ‘‘brute force’’ approach to Probit 9 treats individual nematodes as the observational unit regardless of the number of wood samples it takes to treat this number of organisms, we also used a modeling approach. The best fit was to a Probit function, which estimated lethal temperature at 62.2 (95% confidence interval 59.0-70.0)°. This discrepancy between the observed and predicted temperature to achieve Probit 9 efficacy may have been the result of an inherently limited sample size when predicting the true mean from the total population. The rate of temperature increase in the small wood samples (rise time) did not affect final nematode mortality at 56°. In addition, microwave treatment of industrial size, infested wood blocks killed 100% of > 200,000 nematodes at ≥ 56° held for 1 min in replicated wood samples. The 3rd-stage juvenile (J3) of the nematode, that is resistant to cold temperatures and desiccation, was abundant in our wood samples and did not show any resistance to microwave treatment. Regression analysis of internal wood temperatures as a function of surface temperature produced a regression equation that could be used with a relatively high degree of accuracy to predict internal wood temperatures, under the conditions of this study. These results provide strong evidence of the ability of microwave treatment to successfully eradicate B. xylophilus in infested wood at or above 56° held for 1 min.