BACKGROUND: Chemical nematicides such as methyl bromide have for decades played a significant role in the management of plant-parasitic nematodes. Their application is problematic because of negative environmental impacts, and therefore methyl bromide was phased out in Europe in 2005. A possible alternative to synthetically derived nematicides is seen in the use of plants and/or their secondary metabolites. These plants could either be used as nematicidal green manure or as a source for nematicidal extracts. This study aimed to evaluate the effects of 1,2-dehydropyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs), a group of secondary plant metabolites found in hundreds of plant species throughout the world, on the performance of plant-parasitic and free-living nematodes.
RESULTS: PAs induced nematicidal, ovicidal and repellent effects on different plant-parasitic and free-living nematodes. There was no conclusive ranking in toxicity for the different structural types of PAs tested. However, the effects were often more pronounced for the tertiary than for the oxidised form of PAs. Further, large differences were observed in the susceptibility of different nematode species to PAs.
CONCLUSIONS: PAs do affect several performance parameters and developmental stages of nematodes. Therefore, PA-producing plants such as species of Crotalaria, Ageratum or Senecio might be promising candidates for nematode management strategies. [Correction made here after initial online publication] Copyright © 2009 Society of Chemical Industry