Heterodera zeae




Rev 12/27/2013

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         Heterodera zeae Koshy, Swarup, and Sethi, 1971
Corn cyst nematode
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Morphology and Anatomy:

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Initially reported in India in 1991. Also reported from Pakistan, the Nile Valley (Egypt) and the states of Maryland and Virginia (USA).

When first discovered in Maryland in 1984 it was the subject of a Federal Quarantine that was later rescinded:

USDA-APHIS (7 CFR Part 301  [Docket No. 96-001-2])
ACTION: Final rule.
We are removing the regulations that quarantine certain areas of the United States because of the corn cyst nematode and that restrict the interstate movement of certain articles, such as soil, from the quarantined areas. This action is warranted because this pest is present in only five counties in two States and appears to be adequately contained by the two States affected. This action will relieve restrictions on the interstate movement of regulated articles.
EFFECTIVE DATE: October 10, 1996.

The states of Maryland and Virginia have restrictions in place to prevent the movement of potentially infested articles from the infested areas in Cecil, Harford, Kent and Queen
Anne's Counties, MD, and Cumberland County, VA.


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Economic Importance:


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Sedentary semi-endoparasite of roots, feeding patterns typical of genus Heterodera.

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Corn (Zea mays), barley (Hordeum vulgare),  teosinte (Zea mexicana),  millet (Setaria indica), oat (Avena sativa), rice (Oryza sativa), sorghum (Sorghum bicolor), sugar cane (Saccharum sp.), and wheat (Triticum aestivum), and several weed species.

For an extensive list of host plant species and their susceptibility, copy the name

Heterodera zeae

select Nemabase and paste the name in the Genus and species box


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Life Cycle:

Short life cycle (15-17) under warm conditions and may complete 6-7 generations during a corn growing season.  However, population levels detected in Maryland are typically low.

Reproduction rates were greatest in coarse-textured soil and are lower in finer textures.

Favorable soil temperatures for most phases of the life cycle are >25C.

Female produces a gelatinous egg mass; a portion of the eggs are deposited in an egg mass surrounded by this matrix.  The remainder of the eggs are retained in the female body, which becomes a protective cyst after death.

Males are rare and not required for reproduction.

Infective juveniles persist in fallow soil for about two years.


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Nematicides are effective but may be untenable economically.

Sources of resistance unknown.

Crop rotation to non-hosts a viable option.


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Nickle, W.R. (ed). 1991. Manual of Agricultural Nematology,  Marcel Dekker, Inc.

Luc, M., R.A. Sikora and J. Bridge. 1990. Plant Parasitic Nematodes in Subtropical and Tropical Agriculture, CAB International Institute of Parasitology,

Copyright 1999 by Howard Ferris.
Revised: December 27, 2013.