To date, there has been great demand for ecofriendly nematicides with beneficial properties to the nematode hosting plants. Great efforts are made towards the chemical characterization of botanical extracts exhibiting nematicidal activity against Meloidogyne spp., but only a small percentage of these data are actually used by the chemical industry in order to develop new formulates. On the other hand, the ready to use farmer produced water extracts based on edible plants could be a sustainable and economic solution for low income countries. Herein, we evaluate the nematicidal potential of Stevia rebaudiana grown in Greece against Meloidogyne incognita and Meloidogyne javanica, two most notorious phytoparasitic nematode species causing great losses in tomato cultivation worldwide. In an effort to recycle the plant's remnants, after leaves selection for commercial use, we use both leaves and wooden stems to test for activity. In vitro tests demonstrate significant paralysis activity of both plant parts' water extracts against the second-stage juvenile (J2) of the parasites; while, in vivo bioassays demonstrated the substantial efficacy of leaves' powder (95% at 1 g kg-1) followed by stems. Interestingly, the incorporation of up to 50 g powder/kg of soil is not phytotoxic, which demonstrates the ability to elevate the applied concentration of the nematicidal stevia powder under high inoculum level. Last but not least, the chemical composition analyses using cutting edge analytical methodologies, demonstrated amongst components molecules of already proven nematicidal activity, was exemplified by several flavonoids and essential oil components. Interestingly, and to our knowledge, for the flavonoids, morin and robinin, the anthocyanidin, keracyanin, and a napthalen-2-ol derivative is their first report in Stevia species.
Keywords: Meloidogyne incognita; Meloidogyne javanica; bioactivity; flavonoids; phenolics; terpenes.