EPPO Global Database

EPPO Reporting Service no. 01 - 2011 Num. article: 2011/004

Addition of Meloidogyne ethiopica to the EPPO Alert List

In 2003, a root-knot nematode Meloidogyne ethiopica was found for the first time on greenhouse tomatoes in Slovenia. This was also the first discovery of this tropical species in Europe. M. ethiopica was described in 1968 in Southern Africa (Tanzania) on tomatoes. It was then reported from other Southern African countries on many different host plants. In the 2000s, M. ethiopica was also reported from Brazil and Chile causing damage to grapevine (Vitis spp.) and kiwi (Actinidia spp.). Because M. ethiopica is a polyphagous species which has the potential to survive outdoors in parts of the EPPO region, the Panel on Quarantine Nematodes proposed that this root-knot nematode should be added to the Alert List and Dr Širca (Agricultural Institute of Slovenia) kindly provided most of the information which is presented below.

Meloidogyne ethiopica (root-knot nematode)
Why: In 2003, a tropical root-knot nematode species Meloidogyne ethiopica was found for the first time in a tomato greenhouse in Slovenia. This was also the first record for Europe. M. ethiopica is considered as a damaging species as it can multiply on many different types of plants (dicotyledons and monocotyledons). In addition, it has been shown that this tropical species has the ability to survive outdoors in temperate areas. The Panel on Quarantine Nematodes recommended that M. ethiopica should be added to the EPPO Alert List.

Where: M. ethiopica is a tropical root-knot species which was first described in 1968 in Southern Africa (Tanzania).
EPPO region: Slovenia (not established). It was reported once in 2003 near the village of Dornberk on greenhouse tomatoes. The origin of this nematode in Slovenia remains unknown because the infected tomato plants had not been imported from abroad. The pest is not considered as established in Europe, as the infested tomato crop was destroyed and the pest was not detected again in Slovenia.
Africa: Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe.
South America: Brazil (Distrito Federal, Rio Grande do Sul, Sao Paulo), Chile (detected in the Central Valley from Copiapo (north of Santiago) to Talca).

On which plants: Meloidogyne ethiopica is a polyphagous pest that is able to parasitize at least 80 different host plants, including many economically important crops. In Africa and South America, M. ethiopica has been observed on many different cultivated species such as: Actinidia deliciosa (kiwi), Agave sisalana (sisal), Beta vulgaris (beetroot), Brassica oleracea (cabbages), Capsicum frutescens (hot pepper), Citrullus lanatus (watermelon), Cucurbita spp., Ensete ventricosum (ensete), Glycine max (soybean), Lactuca sativa (lettuce), Lycopersicon esculentum (tomato), Nicotiana tabacum (tobacco), Phaseolus vulgaris (common bean), Polymnia sonchifolia (yacon), Solanum tuberosum (potato), Vicia faba (faba bean), Vigna unguiculata (cowpea), Vitis vinifera (grapevine), as well as on trees (Acacia mearnsii) and weeds (Ageratum conyzoides, Datura stramonium, Solanum nigrum).
Host range experiments have also showed that M. ethiopica can multiply on a large number of cultivated plants of economic importance, for example: Allium cepa (onion), Apium graveolens (celery), Cucumis sativus (cucumber), Daucus carota (carrot), Fagopyrum esculentum (buckwheat), Helianthus annuus (sunflower), Hordeum vulgare (barley), Medicago sativa (lucerne), Oryza sativa (rice), Pisum sativum (pea), Prunus persica (peach), Solanum melongena (aubergine), Spinacia oleracea (spinach), Zea mays (maize).

Damage: As is the case with other root-knot nematodes, M. ethiopica damages plants by affecting the development of their root system which is distorted by small and large multiple galls and devoid of fine roots. Affected plants can also show above ground symptoms such as stunting and wilting. Pot experiments carried out on tomatoes demonstrated that the surface area of fine roots was reduced by 2.1-fold and 3.2-fold when plants were infested with low and high numbers of M. ethiopica, respectively. M. ethiopica is considered to be particularly aggressive to several crops (e.g. beans, cucumber, tomatoes) where it causes very large galls and reproduces intensively (on these plants, its reproduction factor can reach more than 100). In Brazil and Chile, M. ethiopica is considered as a damaging species on kiwi and grapevine, as infestations lead to a reduction of plant growth, fruit size and quality. However, data is lacking on the extent of damage and the economic impact this nematode may cause on its different host plants. Data is also generally lacking on its biology.

Transmission: As a root-knot nematode species, M. ethiopica can easily be transmitted with soil and plant root material. In Chile, it is suspected that movements of contaminated grapevine nursery stock have probably resulted in serious infestations in various vineyards. In Brazil, it is also suggested that this nematode was introduced in 1989 to Rio Grando Sul on kiwi seedlings imported from Curicó (Chile), and that the pest was then moved to Distrito Federal on infested bulbs of Polymnia sonchifolia (yacón or Peruvian ground apple) from Rio Grande do Sul.

Pathway: Infested soil and growing media, plants for planting, bulbs and tubers from countries where M. ethiopica occurs are the most probable pathways to introduce this pest into the EPPO region. Soil attached to machinery, tools, footwear, or plant products is also another possible pathway.

Possible risks: M. ethiopica is a polyphagous species and many of its host plants are of economic importance to the EPPO region as they are cultivated as arable, vegetable, ornamental or fruit crops. The recent incursion of this pest in Slovenia clearly demonstrated that it has the potential to enter the region, although its pathway of introduction remains unknown. Recent studies have showed that, despite its tropical origin, M. ethiopica has the potential to survive outdoors under a continental climate (hot summers and cold winters) even in areas where soil temperatures fall below zero during winter, as well as under a sub-Mediterranean climate (hot summers and mild winters). This indicates that M. ethiopica could establish and spread in the southern and central parts of the EPPO region. In addition, M. ethiopica could survive under glasshouse conditions across the region. Once root-knot nematodes have been introduced, it is in general difficult to control or eradicate them. Based on morphological characteristics, M. ethiopica can be confused with M. incognita, and thus be easily overlooked. However, it can be noted that characteristic esterase isozyme patterns have been described for M. ethiopica to provide more reliable identification. Considering the wide host range of this species and its probable ability to survive in many parts of the EPPO region, it seems desirable to avoid its introduction.

EPPO RS 2011/004
Panel review date: -
Entry date 2011-01


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