First and third authors: Department of Plant Pathology, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville 72701; and second author: Department of Plant Pathology, University of Arkansas, Southwest Research and Extension Center, Hope 71801
Controlled environments were used to study the relationship between the root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne incognita) and Thielaviopsis basicola on cotton. Temperature treatments were continuous 20, 24, and 28°C or two cyclic linear regimes with ranges of 14 to 32 or 18 to 28°C over 24 h. Cotton seeds were planted in fumigated soil infested with T. basicola, M. incognita, or both. After 42 days, pathogen effects on plant growth and pathogen development were evaluated. Histology was conducted on roots collected 14, 28, and 42 days after planting in the continuous 24°C treatment. Reductions in plant height-to-node ratio and total fresh weight were observed for soils infested with both pathogens compared with the control or with soils infested with either pathogen, except for M. incognita-infested soil at 28°C. T. basicola reduced root galling and reproduction of the nematode at all temperatures. Vascular discoloration caused by T. basicola was greater in the presence of M. incognita compared with that by T. basicola alone. At 2 and 4 weeks, histological studies showed that plants grown in all T. basicola-infested soils contained chlamydospore chains on the root surface and in cortical cells. The fungus was not observed inside the vascular cylinder. Roots from 4-week-old plants from soils infested with T. basicola and M. incognita showed fungal sporulation in vascular tissue and localized necrosis of vascular tissue adjacent to the nematodes. At 6 weeks, plants grown in soil infested with T. basicola alone exhibited no remaining cortical tissue and no evidence of vascular colonization by the fungus. Six-week-old plants grown in T. basicola + M. incognita-infested soils exhibited extensive vascular necrosis and sporulation within vascular tissue. These studies suggest that coinfection expands the temperature ranges at which the pathogens are able to cause plant damage. Further, M. incognita greatly increases the access of T. basicola to vascular tissue.