Seasonal Fluctuations of Soil and Tissue Populations of Ditylenchus dipsaciand Aphelenchoides ritzemabosi in Alfalfa

  • J. L. Williams-Woodward
  • F. A. Gray
Keywords: alfalfa, alfalfa stem nematode, aphelenchoides ritzemabosi, chrysanthemum foliar nematode, climate, distribution, ditylenchus dipsaci, medicago sativa, nematode, sampling, seasonal fluctuations


Population dynamics of A. ritzemabosi and D. dipsaci were studied in two alfalfa fields in Wyoming. Symptomatic stem-bud tissue and root-zone soil from alfalfa plants exhibiting symptoms of D. dipsaci infection were collected at intervals of 3 to 4 weeks. Both nematodes were extracted from stem tissue with the Baermann funnel method and from soil with the sieving and Baermann funnel method. Soil moisture and soil temperature at 5 cm accounted for 64.8% and 61.0%, respectively, of the variability in numbers of both nematodes in soil at the Big Horn field. Also at the Big Horn field, A. ritzemabosi was found in soil on only three of the 14 collection dates, whereas D. dipsaci was found in soil on 12 dates. Aphelenchoides ritzemabosi was found in stem tissue samples on 9 of the 14 sampling dates whereas D. dipsaci was found on all dates. Populations of both nematodes in stem tissue peaked in October, and soil populations of both peaked in January, when soil moisture was greatest. Numbers of D. dipsaci in stem tissue were related to mean air temperature 3 weeks prior to tissue collection, while none of the climatic factors measured were associated with numbers of A. ritzemabosi. At the Dayton field, soil moisture plus soil temperature at 5 cm accounted for 98.2% and 91.4% of the variability in the soil populations of A. ritzemabosi and D. dipsaci, respectively. Aphelenchoides ritzemabosi was extracted from soil at two of the five collection dates, compared to extraction of D. dipsaci at three dates. Aphelenchoides ritzemabosi was collected from stem tissue at six of the seven sampling dates while D. dipsaci was found at all sampling dates. The only environmental factor that was associated with an increase in the numbers of both nematodes in alfalfa stem tissue was total precipitation 1 week prior to sampling, and this occurred only at the Dayton field. Numbers of A. ritzemabosi in stem tissue appeared to be not affected by any of the environmental factors studied, while numbers of D. dipsaci in stem tissue were associated with cumulative monthly precipitation, snow cover at time of sampling, and the mean weekly temperature 3 weeks prior to sampling. Harvesting alfalfa reduced the numbers of A. ritzemabosi at the Big Horn field and both nematodes at the Dayton field.