Alleviation of Nematode-Mediated Apple Replant Disease by Pre-Cultivation of Tagetes
Apple replant disease (ARD) is a severe problem in orchards and tree nurseries caused by yet unknown soil biota that accumulate over replanting cycles. This study tested the contribution of nematodes to ARD, and cultivation of Tagetes as a control option. In a pot experiment, Tagetes patula or Tagetes tenuifolia were grown in ARD soil, incorporated or removed. Nematodes extracted from untreated ARD soil and washed on 20-m sieves induced ARD symptoms when inoculated to apple plantlets growing in a sterile substrate. In contrast, nematodes from Tagetes treated ARD soil did not reduce root growth compared to uninoculated plants, irrespective of Tagetes species and incorporation. In plots of five apple tree nurseries or orchards, either Tagetes or grass was grown on ARD soil. Nematodes extracted from the grass plots and inoculated to apple plantlets significantly reduced plant growth compared to nematodes from Tagetes plots for all five farms. Apple rootstocks showed overall a significantly higher increase in shoot base diameter when grown on Tagetes-treated plots compared to grass plots, while this effect differed among farms. Plant-parasitic nematodes were too low in abundance to explain plant damage. In conclusion, Tagetes alleviated ARD by changing the nematode community in soil.