Four-week-old French Colombard plants rooted from green cuttings were inoculated with 0, 1,000, 2,000, 4,000, or 8,000 Meloidogyne incognita second-stage juveniles and maintained at 25 C night and 30 C day. Leaf area and dry weight and the rates of photosynthesis, stomatal conductance, and internal leaf CO concentration were measured at intervals up to 59 days after inoculation. Nematode stress dosage, measured as the product of cumulative number of juveniles and females and their total energy (calories) demand, was up to 3.4 kcal and accounted for up to 15% of the energy assimilated by the plants. There was a decline in the rate of leaf area expansion and leaf, stem, shoot, root (excluding nematode weight), and total plant dry weight with increasing nematode stress. Root weight including nematodes was not affected. Total respiration, plant photosynthesis, energy assimilated into plant tissue and respiration, and gross production efficiency decreased significantly with nematode stress. Photosynthetic rate, transpiration rate, stomatal conductance, and internal CO concentration were not affected. This study demonstrates that the energy demand for growth and reproduction of M. incognita accounts for a significant portion of the total energy entering the plant system. As a result, less energy is partitioned into leaf area expansion which, in turn, affects the energy entering the system and results in decreased productivity of nematode-infected grape vines.
Keywords: Meloidogyne incognita; Vitis vinifera; assimilation; energy partitioning; leaf area expansion; nematode energy demand; photosynthesis; respiration.