NEW nematode species could become a serious threat to UK field and glasshouse crops.
The two species which currently affect potato crops in this country came originally from South America, and have since managed to invade most of Europe. Although the dominant species in the UK is Globodera pallida, Professor Ken Evans, of IACR-Rothamsted, has pinpointed new nematodes which could arrive from abroad to affect crops here – not just in potatoes.
Top of his list is the false root knot nematode (Narcobbus aberrans) which affects sugar beet in North America; beans, tomatoes and chillies in Mexico; and potatoes in South America. It has been found once in the UK, on tomatoes being grown in a glasshouse.
"The only positive feature about it is that it prefers drier soils, so it may find northern Europe a bit too wet for its liking," adds Prof Evans.
A root lesion nematode, Pratilencus bolivia, affects alstroemeriainin many UK nurseries but will also attack field crops by invading roots, causing severe plant stunting and lesions.
The Colombian root knot nematode (Meloidogyne chitwoodi) comes originally from north western America but is now found in the Netherlands, where it causes a lot of damage to potatoes.
"Although most of the Meloidogyne species survive in tropical regions, this particular nematode is quite happy in temperate conditions. It hasnt been reported in the UK yet, but experience in the Netherlands shows how it could become a problem here."