Meloidogyne graminicola threatens global rice production, yet is understudied for many areas where it is cultivated. To better understand the prevalence and incidence of M. graminicola in central Punjab, Pakistan, we carried out field surveys of rice fields in the districts of Faisalabad and Chiniot. M. graminicola isolates were recovered from soil and root samples and identified on the basis of perineal patterns and rDNA ITS-based sequencing. The severity of nematode attack on rice roots and infested fields at various locations was based on galling index, root-knot nematode juveniles per root system, juveniles per 100 ml of soil, and prevalence of stylet-bearing nematodes and non-stylet-bearing nematodes. Maximum prevalence (22.5 and 27.5%) and minimum prevalence (17.5 and 20%) of M. graminicola was observed in Chiniot and Faisalabad, respectively. Eleven alternate host-plant species were examined in this study revealing varying degrees of M. graminicola infestation. ITS sequencing and phylogenetic analysis indicated that isolates from this study form a well-resolved clade with others from Asia, while another isolate falls outside of this clade in an unresolved polytomy with those from Europe and South America. Though monophyletic with the other M. graminicola, the isolates from Pakistan are distinguished by their high genetic variability and long branch lengths relative to the other isolates of M. graminicola, suggesting Pakistan as a possible ancestral area. Our results indicate that rice is severely attacked by a genetically diverse and aggressive M. graminicola, necessitating the development of appropriate control measures for its management in rice and other graminaceous crops.

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Volume Open
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Life Sciences, other