Seventeen isolates of the free-living soil fungus Trichoderma spp., collected from Meloidogyne spp. infested vegetable fields and infected roots in Benin, were screened for their rhizosphere competence and antagonistic potential against root-knot nematodes, Meloidogyne incognita, in greenhouse pot experiments on tomato. The five isolates expressing greatest reproductive ability and nematode suppression in pots were further assessed in a typical double-cropping system of tomato and carrot in the field in Benin. All seventeen isolates were re-isolated from both soil and roots at eight weeks after application, with no apparent crop growth penalty. In pots, a number of isolates provided significant nematode control compared with untreated controls. Field assessment demonstrated significant inhibition of nematode reproduction, suppression of root galling and an increase of tomato yield compared with the non-fungal control treatments. Trichoderma asperellum T-16 suppressed second stage juvenile (J2) densities in roots by up to 80%; Trichoderma brevicompactum T-3 suppressed egg production by as much as 86%. Tomato yields were improved by over 30% following the application of these biocontrol agents, especially T. asperellum T-16. Although no significant effects were observed on carrot galling and yield, soil J2 densities were suppressed in treated plots, by as much as 94% (T. asperellum T-12), compared with the non-fungal controls. This study provides the first information on the potential of West-African Trichoderma spp. isolates for use against root-knot nematodes in vegetable production systems. The results are highly encouraging, demonstrating their strong potential as an alternative and complementary crop protection component.Vlaamse Interuniversitaire RaadPeer Revie
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