Potato cyst nematodes (PCN), Globodera rostochiensis and G. pallida, are economically important pests of potato (Solanum tuberosum) crops in potato growing regions worldwide. Integrated management is under threat, with effective nematicides increasingly being withdrawn on environmental and health grounds. Alternative strategies are urgently needed and trap cropping could be one of them. The non-tuber-bearing Solanum sisymbriifolium is regarded as an effective trap crop for PCN with strong hatching ability and immunity to PCN infection and has been used in the UK and The Netherlands. However, its mode of action is unknown. In order to shed light on the mode of action so that a novel control strategy could be identified, the interactions between G. pallida and S. sisymbriifolium were investigated using in vitro bioassays. In choice assays, G. pallida J2s were equally attracted to the roots of S. sisymbriifolium and to those of S. tuberosum. However, potato root diffusate (PRD), which is routinely used to induce PCN hatch, failed to attract G. pallida J2s in chemotaxis bioassays, indicating hatching factors (HFs) and soluble compounds present in PRD are not involved in attraction of G. pallida J2s to potato roots. The J2s invaded the roots of S. sisymbriifolium in large numbers but failed to develop further. To facilitate continuous observation of nematode development, a novel in vitro method was devised with the use of Pluronic F-127, which requires no sterilisation, and the life cycle of G. pallida was successfully observed in S. tuberosum roots. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction analyses of defence related genes of S. tuberosum and S. sisymbriifolium infected with G. pallida revealed up-regulation of the chitinase gene (ChtC 2.1) at 3 days post inoculation in S. sisymbriifolium but not in S. tuberosum. Electrospray ionisation-mass spectrometry analyses of root exudate extracts of the two Solanum species and subsequent bioassay-guided fractionation showed that the HF of S. sisymbriifolium differs from that of S. tuberosum. Previously, attention had been solely paid to the hatching ability of the root exudate of S. sisymbriifolium, but this study revealed for the first time that the aerial part extract possesses a significant hatching ability.

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