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Research conducted by the Laboratory of Nematology is part of the research program of the Graduate School Experimental Plant Sciences (EPS) and C.T. de Wit Graduate School for Production Ecology & Resource Conservation (PE&RC).
The root-knot nematode, M. chitwoodi, is an important plant-parasitic nematode, currently surpassing the potato cyst nematodes (PCN) (Globodera spps) as the most economically harmful nematode in agricultural farming. It causes severe quality damage to potato, carrots and black salsify. It is a quarantine organism in the EPPO region. Unlike, PCN, M. chitwoodi has a wide host range, including many weeds. This broad host range, together with the phasing out of many chemical nematicides currently available (fumigants and nematostatics) makes the management of M. chitwoodi difficult. In this regard breeding for resistance (either by introgressing and backcrossing resistant genes from wild species eg. as in potato and/or developing resistance through selection and breeding eg. as in fodder radish against M. chitwoodi) is gaining an enormous momentum as a sound, sustainable and environmentally acceptable method of management. However, to use resistant varieties and/or cultivars in the farmers field or to incorporate it into farmers rotation scheme using a Decision Support System, e.g. NemaDecide, their level of resistance has to be quantified in order to ascertain their impact on population development. The estimation of partial resistance or relative susceptibility (rs) of agricultural crops is currently a pronounced tool in The Netherlands for estimating the level of resistance. The quantification and use of partially resistant potato cultivars against PCN has drastically reduced the use of fumigants like Teleone (DD) or 1, 3 methyl-isothiocyanate (Monam) in the last decades. The PCN problem is now in control, a quick and cheap partial resistance tests developed in 1990 provides an easy testing of partial resistance in The Netherlands and is now used in all 27 member states of the EU.
The research on M. chitwoodi will follow the same approach, in testing host status and quantifying the partial resistance or relative susceptibility of important agricultural crops. Populations dynamical and yield models will be instrumental for screening resistance against M. chitwoodi. Basically, the models developed in the first pilot projects will be used as bench mark for downscaling to a specific initial population density of M. chitwoodi to screen resistance under glasshouse conditions with parameters to extrapolate under field conditions. This is finally, to develop a simple, reliable (in terms of cost) and quick method of screening resistance to M. chitwoodi with a possibility of its wider application equivalent to that of PCN.