“African nightshade for capturing nematodes” – using ‘dead end trap crop’ technology for tackling a new pest in East African potato production.

The project is on offering solutions to the recent introduction of PCN the potato cyst nematode in Kenya. The main problem with PCN is its ability to survive as tiny cysts in the soil for long periods of time and the ease of spread with contaminated seed, soil, agricultural tools and activities. A recent survey in Kenya shows that PCN has spread in all major potato growing areas, farmers are already experiencing yield losses and are at a loss on how to tackle this new pest. Being a new pest in the region there are several questions that need to be answered to reduce the negative impact to potato production. For example, the pest must be characterized to species/pathotype level to enable specific control measures; there are differences in aggressiveness between species/pathotypes. For crop rotation recommendations, there is need for information on local crop host status to PCN. Some of these crops, especially local solanaceous crops could be potential trap crops or “dead end trap crops” which must be assessed and evaluated. The effect of available biopesticides is also unknown. Obtaining such knowledge and experience could help farmers improve their approach to tackle this pest. It is known that hatching agents (root diffusates) for PCN are only produced by species of Solanaceae (e.g. African nightshades, aubergine, potatoes, tomatoes). A “dead-end trap” crop stimulates nematodes to hatch from the cyst by the root diffusates, and further resists the establishment of PCN leading to a considerable decline of soil infestation of PCN. It is shown that many plant species from Solanaceae have a high degree of resistance to PCN. However, few systematic studies have been done on the hatching effects of these plant species on PCN, and none on African solanaceous crops. Thus, our core approach is to identify a ‘dead end trap’ crop(s) that stimulates PCN hatching, is resistant to PCN and is also a nutritious food crop.

This is an on-going project and is in its second and final year. The progress is good, one publication is already accepted, pot trials and a field trial are on-going and data being collected. Training of farmers has been initiated through collaboration with a current GIZ potato project. The outcomes of the project will be achieved and is already providing a platform for further research on the topic in the region.

Main Collaborators

  • Bonn University
  • IITA

Funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (“BMZ”) through the German Federal Enterprise for International Cooperation (“GIZ”). 100,000 Euros over two years (2017-2018).