Volume 13 Part 2 Article 1: The status of Caenorhabditis elegans as a pest of the cultivated mushroom Agaricus bisporus

Volume 13 Part 2 Article 1
Year 1991
Title: The status of Caenorhabditis elegans as a pest of the cultivated mushroom Agaricus bisporus
Authors: R.S. Grewal and R.N. Richardson

Abstract:

A recent survey has shown that Caenorhabditis elegans is the commonest saprophagous rhabditid nematode associated with mushroom culture in the British Isles. This nematode is characterised by abundant parthenogenetic females, capable of laying 250-350 eggs, and by extremely rare males. The rapidity of its life cycle is largely due to the favourable temperatures found in mushroom houses and to the nematode’s ability to utilise a wide range of bacteria as food. Common fly pests of mushrooms transport young nematodes from crop to crop and, once established on a farm, rhabditids may become endemic.

The effects of monoxenically mass-produced C. elegans on the cropping of Agaricus bisporus (strain U3) were studied in mushroom growth chambers. C. elegans did not multiply when added to well-prepared, pasteurized, spawned compost, whereas it reproduced rapidly in casing material. When inoculated into casing, C. elegans not only delayed the onset of mushroom production and disrupted the growth pattern of crops, but it also contributed to discolouration of mushrooms, caused some to become physically distorted and, most importantly, resulted in significant yield losses.

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