First report of the root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne incognita) on birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus L.) in the southern United States.
L. corniculatus (birdsfoot trefoil) is a perennial herbaceous forage plant grown for hay as an alternative to lucerne on poor soils. A NIFA grant was awarded to Auburn University to breed a birdsfoot trefoil cultivar to extend the forage's geographic adaptation across the USA. As part of this project at Auburn University in Tallassee, Alabama, 6-month-old birdsfoot trefoil plants exhibited stunting, leaf chlorosis, and marginal leaf necrosis. Roots of these plants had galls of the tap and fine lateral roots. Galls varied in number and size (1-3 mm diameter) and tended to coalesce along the length of the root, covering over 50% of the root tissue. Based on molecular data (PCR assay and sequence analysis) and a greenhouse pathogenicity test, the causal agent was identified as M. incognita. This is thought to be the first report of M. incognita infecting L. corniculatus in Alabama and the southern region of the USA.