Meloidogyne hapla is one of the most damaging plant-parasitic nematodes in temperate regions. This nematode has a wide host range with more than 500 plant taxa including roses. In Ethiopia, rose production has developed over the past 10 years to the second most important export market after coffee. Considering the high damage potential of M. hapla, infestation of roses in Ethiopia with this nematode could result in major economic losses. Therefore, awareness of this nematode species is extremely important. During two surveys conducted in August 2011 and April 2012, M. hapla was detected in soil samples from six out of nine rose producing farms located in the districts of Ziway, Holleta, Sebeta, and Menagesha. At infested farms, rose plants appeared stunted and less productive and often showed symptoms of chlorosis and wilting. Identification was based on morphological and morphometrical characters of females, males, and second-stage juveniles, which were all within the range of variability known for this species (4). Shape of juvenile stylet knobs, shape of male head, and perennial pattern of the females with characteristic punctuations between the anus and tail terminus were also typical for M. hapla. The morphological identification was confirmed by sequence analysis of the D2-D3 expansion segment of the 28S rDNA gene following amplification with the primers D2A (5′-ACAAGTACCGTGAGGGAAAGTT-3′) and D3B (5′-TCGGAAGGAACCAGCTACTA-3′) (1). PCR products were purified and sequenced at the Macrogene sequencing facility service (Amsterdam, The Netherlands). Sequences were deposited in GenBank (KJ645427 to 33). The sequences were compared with previously published sequences in NCBI database and showed 96 to 100% sequence similarity with M. hapla accession nos. GQ130139, DQ328685, KF430798, and DQ145641. Unfortunately, comparison of sequences did not provide further information about the origin of this Ethiopian population, if it is native to Ethiopia or was imported with infected plant material. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first record of M. hapla occurring in Ethiopia. M. hapla is known as a serious pest of roses in colder climate regions. In Africa, it was previously reported from Tanzania (3) and South Africa (2). Thus, it appears that this species has now become also established in Ethiopia at higher altitudes (1,400 to 2,100 m above sea level) within the urban hinterland of Addis Ababa.
References: (1) Baldwin et al. Mol. Phy. Evol. 8:248, 1887. (2) J. H. O'Bannon. Institute Agri. Res. 29, 1975. (3) E. Onkendi and L. N. Moleleki. Eur. J. Pl. Pathol. 136:1, 2013. (4) A. G. Whitehead. Trans. Zool. Soc. Lon.31:263, 1968.
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