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Abstract, Journal of Nematology, 2002

Bioassays and whole-plant experiments were conducted to investigate the interaction between Tylenchulus semipenetrans and Phytophthora nicotianae. Both organisms are parasites of the citrus fibrous root cortex. Nematode-infected and non-infected root segments were excised from naturally infected field roots and placed on water agar in close proximity to agar plugs of P. nicotianae and then transferred to a Phytophthora-selective medium. At 10 and 12 days, 50% fewer nematode-infected segments were infected by P. nicotianae than non-infected segments. In whole-plant experiments in glass test tubes, sour orange seedlings were inoculated with two densities (8,000 or 80,000 eggs and second-stage juveniles) of T. semipenetrans, and after establishment of infection were inoculated with two densities (9,000 and 90,000 zoospores) of P. nicotianae. In the first experiment, fungal protein was 53% to 65% lower in the roots infected by both organisms than in roots infected by the fungus only. Compared to plants infected only by P. nicotianae, shoot weights were 33% to 50% greater (P  0.05) in plants infected by both parasites, regardless of inoculum density. Fibrous and tap root weights were 5% to 23% and 19% to 34% greater (P  0.05), respectively, in nematode-fungus combination treatments compared to the fungus alone. A second experiment was conducted, where plants were infected by the fungus, the nematode, both organisms, or neither organism. The soil mixture pH for 50% of the plants was adjusted from 4.5 to 7.0 to favor nematode infection. A higher rate of nematode infection of plants growing at pH 7.0 compared to pH 4.5 resulted in greater suppression of fungal development and greater inhibition of fungal damage to the plant. Compared to plants infected only by P. nicotianae, shoot and root weights were 37% and 33% greater (P  0.05), respectively, in plants infected by both parasites. These experiments have revealed antagonism between T. semipenetrans and P. nicotianae in citrus.