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Plantwise Technical Factsheet

Indian root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne brevicauda)

Host plants / species affected
Camellia sinensis (tea)
Crocus sativus (saffron)
List of symptoms/signs
Leaves  -  abnormal leaf fall
Roots  -  galls along length
Roots  -  reduced root system
Whole plant  -  dwarfing
Whole plant  -  plant dead; dieback
Symptoms
Above-ground symptoms on tea can be easily confused with those caused by other tea nematodes such as Pratylenchus loosi. However, the characteristic swelling and pitting of the roots caused by M. brevicauda are easily identifiable.

Tea bushes attacked by M. brevicauda are stunted with pale, dull leaves; severe attacks may result in defoliation. Infestations are more apparent in bushes recovering from pruning (Sivapalan, 1972); severely attacked bushes may fail to recover (Loos, 1953). The roots have large, characteristic galls, many of which have pinhole pits. It is often difficult to isolate living mature females; when found, they contain only a few eggs (Loos, 1953).
Prevention and control
In Sri Lanka, the following methods are recommended for reducing populations of root-lesion nematodes including M. brevicauda (Gnanapragasam, 1997): the use of nematode-free planting material; the incorporation of nematicides in the planting hole in areas with a history of nematode infestation; the avoidance of susceptible clones; the use of soil amendments such as refuse tea, compost, castor oil cake and neem oil cake; and uprooting severely damaged mature tea and replacing it with a nematode trap crop before replanting.

In India, mature tea areas infested with M. brevicauda are treated with neem oil cake (Hudson et al., 1997).
Impact
Although M. brevicauda causes severe damage to tea, there has been no quantification of the damage caused. The risk posed by M. brevicauda is limited due to its limited distribution and host range (tea and saffron).
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