The rice root-knot nematode (RKN), Meloidogyne graminicola, is one of the most destructive species of nematodes causing yield losses ranging from 28 to 87%. RKN forms hook-like galls on the roots, and in cases of severe nematode infestation, it results in yellowing and stunting of rice plants.
Several studies suggest that the shift from irrigated rice to water-saving cropping practices, as a response to the decreasing availability of water and agricultural labor, favor RKN. Sustainable management of nematodes in these rice production systems involves the use of resistant or tolerant varieties, control of alternate hosts, crop rotation, and biological control.
Recognizing the increasing importance of RKN, particularly in direct seeded rice (DSR), the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is reactivating its research activities in nematology. As part of this effort, research staff of the Sustainable Impact through Rice-Based Systems and Rice Breeding Innovations Platforms attended the Training on Basic Methods for Research on the Rice Root-Knot Nematode on 17-21 October 2022 to learn how to identify RKN based on its morphology and plant symptoms and mass produce and extract RKN from root and soil samples. Participants were also trained on how to standardize the inoculum, and phenotyping methods for screening germplasm for resistance or tolerance to RKN.
Dr. Marita S. Pinili, Senior Plant Virologist and Phytonematologist and Head, Pest Management Division of University of the Philippines Los Baños served as the training facilitator, and Dr. Nancy Castilla of IRRI was the coordinator. At the end of the training, the participants presented the results and lessons learned during the practical exercises in the laboratory, greenhouse, and field.
The RKN research activities are important to the IRRI’s DSR project which is seen to be one of the most efficient, sustainable, and economically-viable rice production systems used today. RKN is found in diverse rice ecosystems, but is most destructive in rainfed and upland rice in South and Southeast Asia. It also occurs in North and South America, Europe and Africa.
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