Responses of Tylenchulus semipenetrans to Citrus Fruit Removal: Implications for Carbohydrate Competition

  • Larry W. Duncan
  • David M. Eissenstat


Sixteen mature Valencia orange trees on rough lemon rootstock were selected on the basis of approximately equal, naturally occurring populations of Tylenchulus semipenetrans in soil. In March, fruit 1 cm in diameter or less were removed from eight of the trees, which were kept free of fruit for 15 months. In July, 4 months after fruit removal, fibrous root ( 2 mm d) mass density of defruited trees was 51% greater and insoluble starch in fibrous roots was 24% less than on control trees with fruit. Female T. semipenetrans per gram of root were 64% more numerous on roots of control trees than on defruited trees at this time. Numbers of female nematodes per tree and of juveniles and males in soil did not differ between treatments 4 months after fruit removal. Root mass density remained higher on defruited than control trees for the remaining 13 months that the trees were studied, while nematode density in soil beneath defruited trees rapidly increased to levels proportionate to the additional root mass density. Nine months after fruit removal (December), starch concentration was 84% higher in roots of defruited trees compared to controls and remained 28% higher than in controls 15 months (May) following fruit removal. Between months 9 and 15 following fruit removal, nematode density in soil beneath defruited trees increased at a rate five times that of nematode density beneath control trees. In May, female fecundity (eggs/female) on defruited trees was 41% greater than on control trees. The data were consistent with the hypothesis that carbohydrate competition between developing citrus fruit and T. semipenetrans influences seasonal fluctuations in nematode population densities. Key words: carbohydrate, citrus, competition, host-parasite relations, nematode, nutrition, starch, sugar, Tylenchulus semipenetrans.