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Potential for the Pathogenicity of Plant-Parasitic Nematodes Associated with Blueberries in Georgia and North Carolina

P. M. Severns, G. B. Jagdale, T. Holladay, P. M. Brannen, J. P. Noe, and W. O. Cline

January 2020


Ring (Mesocriconema ornatum) nematode in Georgia (GA) has been associated with blueberry replant disease. A survey of plant-parasitic nematodes (PPNs) from production blueberry fields in GA and North Carolina (NC) was previously presented and evaluated from an abundance perspective. However, PPNs are often patchily distributed, occurring in close physical association with infected plant roots. Soil cores may or may not sample the areas of high nematode abundance, and nematode counts tend to be highly variable because of this patchiness. To evaluate the survey data for potentially unrecognized blueberry PPNs, we reanalyzed nematode survey data from NC and GA using multivariate analyses that integrate both patterns of occurrence and patterns in relative abundance. Indicator species analysis identified ring nematode in GA as a potentially pathogenic nematode, consistent with previous confirmation of pathogenicity through a container study. Indicator species analysis also identified two potentially pathogenic nematodes in NC blueberries: awl (Dolichodorus spp.) and sheath (Hemicycliophora spp.) nematodes. Of the two nematodes, awl shared a similar position in the NC blueberry nematode community when compared with ring nematode in GA. However, awl nematode relative abundance was low enough, when compared with ring nematode in GA, to suggest that although it is likely parasitic on NC blueberries, it may not be pathogenic. Our analysis from a previous survey suggests that PPNs are unlikely to be a threat to NC blueberry production. However, if blueberry replant disease emerges in NC, then ring, awl, and sheath nematodes should be considered as potential causal agents.


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