Ahmadu Bello University Researchers Pioneer Effective Biopesticide Against Root-Knot Nematodes

Ahmadu Bello University Researchers Pioneer Effective Biopesticide Against Root-Knot Nematodes

Dr. Muhammad Ahmad Yahaya


Researchers from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna, Nigeria, spanning departments such as Crop Protection, Chemistry, and Pharmacognosy and Drug Development, have achieved a significant breakthrough in the development of a biopesticide aimed at combatting the highly damaging root-knot nematode, Meloidogyne incognita. This nematode, along with other plant parasitic nematodes, contributes to a substantial yearly projected yield loss of 12.3% globally, with developing nations like Nigeria experiencing even higher losses at 14.6%. These losses translate to an estimated annual economic crop yield loss of USD 173 billion, underscoring the urgency of effective nematode management strategies.

Root-knot nematodes, particularly prevalent in subtropical and tropical regions like Nigeria, induce patchy distribution of infected plants in fields, characterized by symptoms such as yellow leaves, stunted growth, nutrient deficiencies, and secondary infections by other pathogens. Nematodes pose a significant challenge to food and fiber crop production in Nigeria and other developing countries.

Traditionally, synthetic nematicides and soil fumigants have been employed to manage nematode infestations. However, concerns over their adverse environmental and health effects have led to a global decline in their usage. Consequently, there is a pressing need for safer and environmentally friendly alternatives.

Recognizing the nematicidal properties of certain plants, indigenous to Nigeria, such as Neem seed and Hyptis species, the researchers focused their efforts on harnessing these natural compounds as biopesticides. Published in The Journal of Phytopharmacology 2024; 13(1):77-82, their study investigated the extraction of these compounds using four different solvents and evaluated their efficacy against root-knot nematode eggs and larvae in vitro. Remarkably, the combination of extracts from both plants, extracted with chloroform, demonstrated 100% egg hatching inhibition and larval mortality at low rates, highlighting its potential as a highly effective biopesticide.

Subsequent toxicity testing revealed the compound to be non-fatal to test animals, with full recovery observed after initial distress. Encouraged by these promising results, the research has progressed to field trials using various formulations to assess effectiveness under real-world conditions.

The research was generously supported by the National Research Fund intervention scheme of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) of the Nigerian Government. The collaborative team of scientists involved in this groundbreaking research includes Julius Bulus, Adobe Joshua Kwanashie, Iliyasu Mohammed Utono, James Dama Habila, Sheikh Emmanuel Laykay Alao, Afiniki Bawa Zarafi, Lucius Joseph Bamaiyi, Ahmed Abubakar, and Boniface David Kashina.

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