Department of Entomology and Nematology, University of Stellenbosch, Private Bag X1, Matieland 7602, Stellenbosch 7600, South Africa
Department of Agriculture, SAAFQIS, Private Bag X5015, Stellenbosch 7599, South Africa
ARC Infruitec-Nietvoorbij, Private Bag X5026, Stellenbosch 7599, South Africa
Agathosma betulina, commonly known as buchu, has been used for centuries by the indigenous people of South Africa for medicinal purposes. Currently, the essential oils from buchu are used in medicine, food flavorings, and aromatic oils. Increased exploitation of natural growing buchu in the Fynbos biome and a worldwide shortage of buchu oil encouraged commercial cultivation in South Africa. The root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne spp.) is one of the most common plant-parasitic nematodes found on commercial crops grown in the Western Cape. It has also been isolated from the soil and roots of plants in the natural Fynbos vegetation (2). In June 2003, a nursery propagating buchu plants experienced problems with poor growth. Examination of the buchu roots under a stereo microscope showed extensive galling with large numbers of female root-knot nematodes with eggsacs. Nematode extractions of the soil were also done. Only second-stage juveniles of Meloidogyne spp. (311 per 250 ml of soil) were recovered. A polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based diagnostic method (1) was used for the identification of the root-knot nematode species. Ten intact females were dissected from the roots and individually placed directly in 5 μl drops of 1× PCR reaction buffer (16 mM [NH4]2SO4, 67 mM tris-HCL, pH 8.8, 0.1% vol/vol Tween 20) ontaining 60 μg/ml of proteinase K. The tube was kept at -80°C for a minimum of 10 min. The tube was incubated at 60°C for 15 min and 5 min at 95°C. The PCR amplifications were then prepared directly in the same tube. Amplified DNA fragments were digested with HinfI and DraI. The digested DNA was loaded on a 2% agarose gel, separated by electrophoresis, and detected by ethidium bromide staining. The digested amplified DNA fragments correspond to those of Meloidogyne javanica. Morphological characteristics were used to verify the PCR-based identification of the nematode. To our knowledge, this is the first report of M. javanica causing extensive galling on the roots of Agathosma betulina. Visual damage to the roots indicates the root-knot nematode to be an important threat to the commercial cultivation of buchu.
References: (1) R. Knoetze. Potential of the polymerase chain reaction for the identification of plant-parasitic nematodes. M.Sc. thesis. University of Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch, South Africa, 1999. (2) A. J. Meyer, S. Afr. J. Enol. Vitic., 20:75, 1999.