MeloRisk Australasia: Reducing the risk of exotic root-knot nematodes in Australasia

Hands hold rice grains
Project code
AUD 87,500
Research program manager
Ms Irene Kernot
Project leader
Mr Anthony Pattison
Commissioned organisation
Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
JUN 2023
MAR 2025
Project status
Legally committed/Active
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This project aims to develop strategies to anticipate the arrival of exotic root-knot nematodes (RKN) and support development of fast, reliable diagnostic methods, not only for identification but also for field detection.

In addition, the distribution of RKN species needs to be clarified, as many current techniques do not go to species level. Correct RKN species identification will inform future management strategies, including the development of resistant varieties, non-host rotation crops, and suitable chemical nematicides.

Plant-parasitic nematodes (PPN) represent an important constraint to agricultural production, causing an estimated yearly output loss of more than $157 billion globally. Among the PPN, RKN, and Meloidogyne spp., are considered the most pathogenic, causing economic damage to a wide range of economically important crops. Yield losses caused by RKN infection can reach up to 70%. They are generally considered a greater pest in tropical regions, where they are regarded as a ubiquitous pest of many important food crops.

The recent detections of exotic RKNs like Meloidogyne graminicola in European rice fields and Meloidogyne enterolobii in Queensland, have highlighted the threat that new species can have on agricultural production systems. The exotic nematodes have demonstrated greater pathogenicity, with wider host ranges and the ability to overcome existing nematode management strategies.

Central to RKN management is early detection and correct species identification. The objective is to support the early detection and identification of exotic root-knot nematode species threatening the viability of plant-based agriculture in Southeast Asia. The project will utilise the global nematology network developed within the EUPHRESCO project Melorisk: Preventing Meloidogyne graminicola spread in European rice paddies to develop 'world best' practices.

Activities and expected outcomes

  • Developing diagnostic tests for root-knot nematode species determination.
  • Verifying diagnostic protocols and in-field tests in different cropping systems in Australasia.
  • Contributing to a global network of nematologists to strengthen project outcomes to detect exotic nematode threats for farmers by providing a valuable platform for collaboration, communication, and knowledge-sharing. 
Key partners
Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries