Department of Nematology, University of California at Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis 95616-8668
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Accepted for publication 25 January 1999.
I tested the hypothesis that exclusion of enchytraeids and microarthropods in agricultural fields improves establishment of two nematophagous fungi. Soil was collected from three tomato fields and two vineyards and either heat-treated (2 h at 60°C) or not. Alginate pellets containing hyphae of the fungi Hirsutella rhossiliensis or Monacrosporium gephyropagum were added to the soil, which was packed into cages (PVC pipe, 80-cm3 volume) sealed with fine (20 μm) or coarse (480 μm) mesh. Cages were buried 22 cm deep in the same fields from which the soil had been collected. After 7 to 50 days, the cages were recovered and fungi and fauna quantified. Fine mesh largely excluded enchytraeids, collembolans, and mites but rarely affected fungus numbers. In contrast, heat treatment of soil rarely affected enchytraeids, collembolans, or mites but frequently increased fungus numbers, regardless of mesh size. The data are inconsistent with the initial hypothesis but are consistent with the idea that organisms narrower than 20 μm interfere with fungal growth from the pellets.
© 1999 The American Phytopathological Society