Terrence L. Kirkpatrick, and
Craig S. Rothrock
First author: United States Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Research Service Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center, Stuttgart, AR 72160; second author: Universidad de Cordoba, Monteria, Cordoba, Colombia; third author: Southwest Research and Extension Center, Hope, AR 71801; and fourth author: Department of Plant Pathology, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville 72701.
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Accepted for publication 19 November 2013.
Effects of the root-knot nematode Meloidogyne incognita and the fungal pathogen Thielaviopsis basicola on cotton seedling growth and root morphology were evaluated in controlled environmental experiments. Four pathogen treatments, including noninfested soil, soil infested with M. incognita, soil infested with T. basicola, and soil infested with both pathogens were evaluated at soil bulk densities (BDs) of 1.25 and 1.50 g/cm3. Plant growth and the morphology of the root systems were evaluated 44 days after planting. Infestation with M. incognita and T. basicola together significantly reduced seedling emergence, number of stem nodes, and root system volume compared with either pathogen alone. Either M. incognita or T. basicola reduced plant height, root fresh weight, top dry weight; root parameters total root length, surface area, and links; and root topological parameters magnitude, altitude, and exterior path length. M. incognita infection increased root radius. Root colonization by T. basicola increased with the presence of M. incognita at the lower soil BD. In contrast to previous research with Pythium spp., root topological indices (TIs) were similar with all of the treatments. Root TIs were near 1.92, indicating a herringbone (less branching) root architectural structure. Studying root architecture using a topological model offers an additional approach to evaluating fungi and nematodes and their interactions for soilborne-pathogen systems.
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