A survey of Miscanthus × giganteus and switchgrass plots throughout the midwestern and southeastern United States was conducted to determine the occurrence and distribution of plant-parasitic nematodes associated with these biofuel crops. During 2008, rhizosphere soil samples were collected from 24 Miscanthus × giganteus and 38 switchgrass plots in South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois. Additional samples were collected from 11 Miscanthus × giganteus and 10 switchgrass plots in Illinois, Kentucky, Georgia, and Tennessee the following year. The 11 dominant genera recovered from the samples were Pratylenchus, Helicotylenchus, Xiphinema, Longidorus, Heterodera, Hoplolaimus, Tylenchorhynchus, Criconemella, Paratrichodorus, Hemicriconemoides, and Paratylenchus. Populations of Helicotylenchus, Xiphinema, and Pratylenchus were common and recorded in 90.5, 83.8, and 91.9% of the soil samples from Miscanthus × giganteus, respectively, and in 91.6, 75, and 83.3% of the soil samples from switchgrass, respectively. Prominence value (PV) (PV = population density × √frequency of occurrence/10) was calculated for the nematodes identified. Helicotylenchus had the highest PV (PV = 384) and was followed by Xiphinema (PV = 152) and Pratylenchus (PV = 72). Several of the nematode species associated with the two biofuels crops were plant parasites. Of these, Pratylenchus penetrans, P. scribneri, P. crenatus, Helicotylenchus pseudorobustus, Hoplolaimus galeatus, X. americanum, and X. rivesi are potentially the most damaging pests to Miscanthus × giganteus and switchgrass. Due to a lack of information, the damaging population thresholds of plant-parasitic nematodes to Miscanthus × giganteus and switchgrass are currently unknown. However, damage threshold value ranges have been reported for other monocotyledon hosts. If these damage threshold value ranges are any indication of the population densities required to impact Miscanthus × giganteus and switchgrass, then every state surveyed has potential for yield losses due to plant-parasitic nematodes. Specifically, Helicotylenchus, Xiphinema, Pratylenchus, Hoplolaimus, Tylenchorhynchus, Criconemella, and Longidorus spp. were all found to have population densities within or above the threshold value ranges reported for other monocotyledon hosts.
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