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Effects of the earthworm Pontoscolex corethrurus on banana plants infected or not with the plant-parasitic nematode Radopholus similis

Lafont A., Risède J.M., Loranger-Merciris G., Clermont Dauphin C., Dorel M., Rhino B., Lavelle P.. 2007. Pedobiologia, 51 (4) : p. 311-318.

DOI: 10.1016/j.pedobi.2007.05.004

Radopholus similis is a worldwide endoparasitic nematode that greatly hampers banana (Musa acuminata, Cavendish subgroup) productivity. Earthworms are known to closely interact with above-ground and under-ground soil biota and particularly with plants and microfaunal communities. This study was aimed at investigating, under greenhouse conditions, the effects of the earthworm Pontoscolex corethrurus on banana growth and nutrient uptake, and assessing the influences of this earthworm on the development of an inoculated population of R. similis. Six-weekold tissue culture banana plants were submitted to four treatments: with P. corethrurus, R. similis, P. corethrurus+R. similis, and a control with no earthworms or nematodes. At the end of the experiment, the P. corethrurus treatments showed significantly higher leaf surface areas, shoot dry root weights, and root fresh weights than those without earthworms. This root growth enhancement probably contributed to the evident but non-significant decrease in the density of nematodes in the roots, even though earthworms did not reduce the total number of nematodes per whole root system. Moreover, the presence of earthworms slightly alleviated the severity of root damage. N bioavailability in the soil, along with N, Ca, and Mg content of banana plants, were also significantly increased in the presence of earthworms. Our results demonstrated that banana plant growth and nutrition were positively influenced by earthworms. Cropping practices that boost the development of earthworm communities in soil should therefore be promoted to enhance sustainability and to naturally alleviate nematode impact. © 2007 Elsevier Gmbh. All rights reserved.

Mots-clés : radopholus similis; musa; oligochaeta; lutte antinématode; plantations; croissance; absorption de substances nutritives; culture sous abri; australimusa; pontoscolex corethurus

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