Crop rotation and tillage affect nematode communities more than biocides in monoculture soybean

Deborah A. Neher, Tharshani Nishanthan, Zane J Grabau, Senyu Y. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Long-term monoculture of susceptible soybeans naturally develops suppressiveness to soybean cyst nematode (SCN) Heterodera glycines if fields are not tilled or biocides applied. Nematode community indices, that integrate the responses of different taxa and trophic groups to perturbation, provide a tool to monitor the ecological status of soil communities. We tested the hypothesis that soil suppressiveness to Heterodera glycines is correlated positively to management practices that favor both greater trophic diversity (food web complexity) and a later stage ecological succession (less disturbance) within free-living nematode communities. A factorial combination of cultivation, crop rotation, and biocide application treatments were monitored for four years in a field with a history of no-till and monoculture of susceptible soybean for 15 years. Crop rotation had the greatest impact on nematode community index values followed by descending order of cultivation and biocides. Suppressive soils did have greater food web complexity, but not necessarily ecological succession. Nematode community composition was influenced by covariables nitrogen and organic matter content (mean 6.6%), but not pH or salinity. The study is novel by using a food web approach that includes multiple trophic levels rather than simply population ecology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-97
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Soil Ecology
StatePublished - Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Cathy Johnson, Wayne Gottschalk, and Jeff Ballman at the University of Minnesota for field sample collection, and Tom Weicht at University of Vermont for assistance with nematode extraction, nematode identification and soil chemistry. This work was supported by the National Research Initiative (NRI) Arthropod and Nematode Biology and Management Program of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Grant No. 2009-35302-05261 .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier B.V.


  • Biological control
  • Disease suppression
  • Free-living nematodes
  • Maturity index
  • Organic matter
  • Principal response curves


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