Madras Agric. J., 98 (10-12): 386-389, December 2011

Life Cycle, Histopathology and Yield Loss Caused by Root Knot Nematode, Meloidogyne incognita on Noni P.G. Kavitha1*, E.I. Jonathan2 and S. Nakkeeran3 *1Department of Nematology, 2Centre for Plant Protection Studies, 3Department of Plant Pathology Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore - 641 003

Noni is considered a panacea to cure many diseases as a health supplement or as a therapy. It is gaining popularity for its use as an alternative herbal medicine. Root knot nematode, Meloidogyne incognita is one of the most destructive pathogens of noni. Due to its obligate and endoparasitic nature, it disrupts the physiology, arrests the growth of plants and reduces fruit yield and quality which ultimately results in great economic loss. Yield loss caused by root knot nematode in noni was found to be 42.8 and 46.6 per cent in two experiments conducted simultaneously at different locations. Histopathological studies of the infected root revealed severe dislocation of xylem and phloem vessels in the cortical region and in addition it was observed that egg masses were laid inside the root rather than outside and this significantly manifested the severity of the disease. Key words: Histopathology, life cycle, M. incognita, Noni, yield loss

Morinda citrifolia, L. popularly known as Great morinda, Indian mulberry, nunaakai (Tamil Nadu, India) or noni (Hawaii) is a tree of coffee family, Rubiaceae. It’s native range extends from Southeast Asia to Australia, and the species is now cultivated throughout the tropics and widely naturalised. It is found along the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. In India it is widely grown under natural conditions in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Noni is considered as a miracle plant with more than 150 nutraceuticals, several vitamins, minerals, micro and macro nutrients that help the body in various ways from cellular level to organ level. Fruits are used to maintain healthy blood sugar level, normal cardiovascular function, urinary track, immune system, menopausal, joint and cellular health. Seed oil contains linoleic acid and useful when applied topically to skin for antiinflammation, acne reduction and moisture moisture retention. Noni has been shown to be a better antioxidant which supports body’s system against deterioration due to ageing. The bark produces a brownish-purplish dye for batik making (cloth painting). Root knot nematode, Meloidogyne incognita Cofoid and White is a serious pest of noni causing severe reduction in plant growth and fruit yield. Symptoms of damage induced by root-knot nematode include patches of stunted and yellowed plants, presence of root galls and reduced root system which ultimately causes a significant decline in plant health and fruit yield. Opportunistic or pathogenic fungi and bacteria that colonize nematode-infected tissues may exacerbate the *1Corresponding author email: [email protected]

symptoms and the disease complex may result in death of the plant (Nelson, 2005). As a result of infection yellowing of leaves, stunting of plants, formation of heavy galls, stem girdling, rotting of roots and death of the plants occur. Therefore studies were conducted on life cycle, histopathology and yield loss of noni due to root knot nematode infestation. Materials and Methods Life cycle of root knot nematode M. incognita in noni was studied under glasshouse conditions. Six months old noni seedlings were planted in 10 kg earthen pots filled with sterilized pot mixture. Root knot nematode infested roots that were collected during field surveys served as source of inoculum. Egg masses were collected from the roots and eggs were allowed to hatch by incubating them in tap water for 3-4 days. Hatched infective J 2 were inoculated to noni seedlings to study the life cycle. Uninoculated noni plants were maintained as control. Histopathological studies were made by microtome sectioning of root knot nematode infected and uninfected roots followed by staining and microscopic observations. In order to study the ultra structural changes in the galled tissues of noni plants, microtome study was taken up and anatomical observations were carried out by following the method suggested by Jonsen, (1962). Yield loss experiment was conducted during 2011 on three years old noni plants infested with M. incognita (>1 J2 /g soil) at Tamil Nadu Agriculture University, Coimbatore. A set of treatments with

387 carbofuran 3G (4kg a.i./ha) and Control (Untreated) with 13 replications were evaluated in 26 plants under paired plot technique (Bhatti and Jain, 1977). Carbofuran 3G is applied @ 4kg a.i./ha by considering the severity of nematode infestation and perennial nature of the crop. Observations on plant height, number of fruits per plant and fruit weight were recorded in the treated and control plants at 90 days after treatment. Soil samples (250 cm3) were processed for nematode extraction using the method of Whitehead and Hemming (1965). Galling was assessed using a visual rating based on rating scale of Taylor and Sasser (1978). Data were subjected to analysis of variance and means separated using Duncan’s multiple range tests (Gomez and Gomez, 1984). Similar experiment was conducted simultaneously at Agricultural Research station at Aliyar Nagar, Tamil Nadu to confirm the results of the experiment. Results and Discussion Root knot nematode is a sedentary endoparasite where the adult female nematode lays eggs in a gelatinous muco polysaccharide. As the

nematode developed in the egg, it molted to change from a first stage to a second stage juvenile (J2) which then hatched out from the egg. J2 is the only infective stage that burrowed into the root, usually at or near the root tip. Soon after inoculation J2 invaded root tissues and then established a permanent, stationary feeding location. It migrated through the cortex of the root until it selected an appropriate feeding site, usually just behind the root tip. The nematode started feeding and became stationary. During feeding, normally the nematode releases enzymes and plant growth hormones into the root. This caused changes in the root’s physiology, and “giant cells” were formed around the nematode’s head. Generally 5-7 giant cells develop and the nematode moves its head slightly to feed on these specialized cells. The nematode began to grow in size and became “sausage-shaped,” and molted again to become a third stage juvenile. On further development, the nematode molts a third time to become a fourth stage juvenile, which may be distinguished as male or female. Females did not move from that site for the rest of their life and became sedentary (Fig 1).

Fig 1. Life cycle of noni root-knot nematode, a typical sedentary endoparasite.

Adult female

Adult male

Female inside the gall

Root knot nematode egg

2 celled egg

8 celled egg

J1 inside the egg

J2- infective juvenile

Life cycle of root knot and cyst nematodes was described by McKenry and Roberts (1985). Duration of different stages in the life cycle of root knot nematode recorded in noni is given in Table 1. The developing male after fourth molt left the root in search of a female. The female after fourth molting continued to swell and became “pearshaped” with their posterior end just beneath the root surface. Root tissues became enlarged to form a gall or “root-knot” around the nematode. No gall formation was observed in the uninoculated plants.

Table 1. Duration of life stages of root knot nematode M. incognita Life stage Second stage juvenile (J2) Third stage juvenile (J3) Fourth stage juvenile (J4) Adult male Adult female Total life cycle

Duration (Days) 1-5 6-8 9-12 23 27 25-30

388 Female gets fertilized by the male and lays about 250-300 eggs in an egg sac inside the root tissues. Eggs hatch within a few days or remain until a suitable host is found. Laying of egg masses inside the root is a distinguishing feature of root knot nematode association in noni was due to the hardy nature of the roots. Histopathological studies of the nematode infected root that showed the formation of specialized feeding sites called “giant cells” which

were the modification of procambial cells of the vascular region (Bird, 1979). Giant cells are multinucleated with large vacuoles which act as metabolic sink supplying nutrients for the developing female and throughout its parasitism. Similar observation was recorded by Dropkin (1969) in tomato. Xylem and phloem vessels were heavily dislocated and adult females along with egg masses were found in the giant cells. Microtome sections shown in Fig 2 clearly depict the ultrastrutural changes in the galled root tissues.

Fig 2. Histopathological changes due to Meloidogyne incognita infestation in Noni

Dislocation of xylem & phloem vessels

Adult female with eggs around the giant cells

Egg mass inside the root

Stained eggs inside the root

Stained eggs inside the root

Healthy root with intact xylem and phloem

From this study it is evident that the presence of egg masses inside the hardy root manifested the severity of the disease which ultimately resulted in reduction in fruit yield. In the healthy uninfected roots in the uninoculated pots, no giant cell formation was observed and the xylem and phloem vessels were intact. The performance of noni plants treated with carbofuran 3G @ 4 kg a.i/ha was significantly better

when compared to the control. The fruit yield/ plant of the treated plant (9.8 kg) was higher than the untreated ones (5.6 kg) leading to 42.8 per cent avoidable yield loss (Table 2). The treated plants started flowering earlier and resulted in higher fruit yield than the untreated. A significant reduction in the yield of noni in untreated plots was mainly attributed to direct damage to the root system by the

389 Table 2. Avoidable yield loss due to M. incognita in noni (Location 1: Coimbatore and Location 2: Aliyar Nagar) Location 1-TNAU, Coimbatore Treated (Carbofuran 3G @ 4kg a.i./ha)


No. of fruits/plant Average weight of a fruit (g) Total weight of fruits/plant (kg) Avoidable yield loss (%) Final Nematode population in Soil (250 cm3 of soil) Gall index

323.0 30.2 9.8 42.8 40.2 2.3


290.0 19.3 5.9 486.5 5.0

‘t’ value

7.81 7.79 7.89 7.92

Location 2-Aliyar Nagar, Pollachi Treated (Carbofuran 3G @ 4kg a.i./ha) 410.0 32.4 13.3 46.6 54.8 2.6


‘t’ value

325.0 21.9 7.1 462.1 5.0

7.93 7.90 7.81 7.95

(t=0.05), No of plants evaluated- 2 x 13= 26

root knot nematode. The nematode population in these galls contains thousands of eggs and soil (40.2/250 cm3 of soil) and gall index (2.6) in the nematodes inside. carbofuran treated plots 40.2 and 2.6 respectively The study conducted at Aliyar Nagar showed which was significantly lower than in the untreated similar results in terms of nematode infestation and plot (486.5 and 5.0 respectively) because the yield loss due to nematode damage was 46.6 per nematode multiplied many folds during the three cent which was slightly higher than the experiment months period. High M. incognita infestation in the conducted at Coimbatore. Since the noni plants were untreated control plots resulted in yellowing, older at Aliyar Nagar, the fruit yield was higher (13.3 stunting, and ultimately reduced the number and kg) when compared to the plants at Coimbatore weight of the fruits. Roots of the untreated plants (9.8 kg). showed severe galling and cracking (Fig 3). Each of Fig 3. Symptoms in affected noni plant due to root knot nematode, M. incognita infestation

Healthy plant

Stunted plant show yellowing

From the above study it is evident that root knot nematode M. incognita pose a great threat to the noni crop and warrants suitable nonchemical strategy to overcome the menace considering the medical importance of the crop. References Bhatti, D.S. and Jain, R.K. 1977. Estimation of loss in okra, tomato and brinjal yield loss due to Meloidogyne incognita. Indian J. Nematol., 7: 37-41 Bird, A.F. 1979. Histopathology and physiology of syncytia. In: Root knot nematodes (Meloidogyne species), F. Lamberti and C.E.Taylor. (Eds), Academic Press, New York, 155-171p. Dropkin, V.H., Helgeson, J.P. and Upper, C.D. 1969. The hypersensitivity of tomato resistant to Meloidogyne incognita: Reversal by cytokinins. J. Nematol., 1:55-61. Gomez, K.A., and Gomez, A.A. 1984. Statistical Procedures for Agricultural Research, 2nd edition, John Willey and Sons, New York.

Galled Root

Jonsen, W.A.1962. Botanical Histochemistry, Freeman and Co., San Francisco. 480p. McKenry, M.V. and Roberts, P. A. 1985. Phytonematology Study Guide. Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. University of California, USA. Nelson. S. 2005. Noni Root Knot, a Destructive Disease of Morinda citrifolia in Hawaii.Plant Disease, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Hawaii, USA, PD-27 Taylor, A.L. and Sasser, J.N. 1978. Biology, identification and control of root knot nematodes (Meloidogyne spp.,). A cooperative publication of North Carolina State University, Department of Plant Pathology and USAID, Raleigh, NC, USA, 111pp. West, B.J., Jensen, J. and Johannes, W. 2008. A new vegetable oil from noni (Morinda citrifolia) seeds. Int. J. Food Sci & Tech., 43: 1988–92. Whitehead, A.G. and Hemming, J.R. 1965. A comparison of some quantitative methods of extracting small vermi form nematodes from soil. Ann. Appl. Biol., 55: 25-38.

Received: May 5, 2011; Accepted: November 21, 2011

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