Tropical Ecology and Conservation [Monteverde Institute]

Alternative Title

Efectividad del uso de cobertura vegetal del suelo como control de nematodos de raíz (Meloidogyne spp.) en plantas de café (Coffea arabica)


Joyce Silva



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Publication Date

December 2017


Root Knot Nematodes are members of the family Meloidognidae and can be detrimental to the overall health and productivity of infected crops. Evidence of the presence of these nematodes can be seen by the galls or “swollen nodules” that form where these worms have been feeding. In order to avoid the use of harmful nematicides some farms have chosen to use cover crops as a more sustainable approach to combating these pests. For my study I decided to test if the cover crops used at LIFE Monteverde were effective in reducing the prevalence of root knot nematodes in the roots of their coffee trees. Using two different plots of coffee I was able to analyze a total of 235 roots from 56 trees. After extracting these roots, they were taken back to the lab, examined, and then categorized by the number of galls found on each individual root collected. The first plot that was sampled lacked evidence of root knot nematodes regardless if cover crops were used on the tree or not. The second plot’s roots were clearly infested with root knot nematodes from both trees that used cover crops and those who did not. Both plots clearly indicated that cover crops did not affect the presence of nematodes. This data also suggested that perhaps age, proximity to neighboring farms, and topography play a role in the soil’s suitability for root knot nematodes. In addition to these results, I also noticed that the coffee trees were the only roots being parasitized. The roots of the cover crops used showed no signs of nematode infestation and were found in the same soil of the roots that were severely affected by these parasites. This evidence could suggest that this species of root knot nematodes are a specialized species that feed only on the roots of Coffea arabica. Los nematodos de raíz son miembros del género Meloidogyne y pueden ser dañinos para la salud y productividad de los cultivos infectados. La formación de agallas o nudos en raíces son evidencia de la presencia de estos nematodos. Con el fin de evitar el uso de nematicidas nocivos, algunas fincas han optado por utilizar cobertura vegetal de suelo como una alternativa más sostenible para combatir estas plagas. Mi objetivo con este estudio fue probar si la cobertura vegetal de suelo utilizada en LIFE Monteverde es efectiva en reducir la prevalencia de nematodos de raíz en las plantas de café. Usando dos parcelas diferentes de café, analicé un total de 235 raíces de 56 árboles. Las muestras fueron clasificadas según el número de agallas encontradas en cada raíz individual recolectada. La primera parcela que se muestreó carecía de evidencia de nematodos de raíz, independientemente de la presencia de cobertura vegetal de suelo. Las raíces de la segunda parcela estaban claramente infestadas con nematodos de raíz, tanto los árboles rodeados de cobertura vegetal de suelo como de los que no. Ambas parcelas indicaron claramente que la cobertura vegetal de suelo no afectó la presencia de nematodos. Estos datos también sugieren que tal vez la edad y la topografía juegan un papel en la prevalencia de nematodos de raíz en plantas de café. Además de estos resultados, también noté que los cafetos eran las únicas raíces parasitadas. Las raíces de los cultivos de cobertura utilizados no mostraron signos de infestación de nematodos a pesar de encontrarse junto a las plantas de café infestadas. Esto podría sugerir que esta especie de nematodo de raíz es específica de Coffea arabica.


Coffee plantations, Plantaciones de café, Coffee--Diseases and pests, Café-Enfermedades y plagas, EAP Fall 2017, EAP Otoño 2017, Costa Rica--Puntarenas--Monteverde Zone, Costa Rica--Puntarenas--Zona de Monteverde


Student affiliation: Department of Environmental Science, University of California, Riverside.

Subject: topical

Coffee plantations; Plantaciones de café; Coffee--Diseases and pests; Café-Enfermedades y plagas; EAP Fall 2017; EAP Otoño 2017

Subject: geographic

Costa Rica--Puntarenas--Monteverde Zone; Costa Rica--Puntarenas--Zona de Monteverde



Holding Location

Monteverde Institute MVI



The effectiveness of cover crops as a control for root knot nematodes (Meloidogyne spp.) in coffee (Coffea arabica)



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