Skip to main content

Ditylenchus destructor

EPPO code


Common names

English names: Potato Rot Nematode, Potato Tuber Nematode Nordic names: Kartoffelrådnematod (DK), Lahoankeroinen (FI), Potetråtenematode (NO) Potatisrötnematod (SE)
Estonian name: Kartuliingerjas

Major host plants

Potatoes are the main host. Several other crops and wild plants have been recorded as hosts (e.g. Iris).


In potato, heavy infestation gives rise to weak plants. On badly affected tubers there are typically slightly sunken areas with cracked and wrinkled skin. The flesh has a dry and mealy appearance, varying in colour from grayish to dark brown or black due to secondary invasion of fungi, bacteria and free-living nematodes. Early infestation can be detected by peeling the tuber which can reveal small, off-white spots in the otherwise healthy flesh.

Ditylenchus destructor on potato. Courtesy EPPO: Alain Buisson, LNPV Unité de nématologie, Le Rheu (FR)

See more pictures on EPPO's website


A map can be downloaded fra EPPO's website. See instructions here.


D. destructor is unable to withstand excessive desiccation, and for this reason is usually only important in cool, moist soils. The species overwinters in soil as adults or larvae and may even multiply by feeding on alternative weed hosts and on fungal mycelium. It may also possibly overwinter as eggs. The nematodes attack only subterranean and not aerial parts of plants. They enter potato tubers through the lenticels, and then begin to multiply rapidly and invade the whole tuber. They can continue to live and develop within harvested tubers. Viable in soil and plant residues up to 5 years.

Major pathway(s)

Nematodes spread primarily by infested tubers and soil.

Detection and inspection

Tubers should be cut or peeled to look for the characteristic whitish pockets in which most of the nematodes are found. Microscopic examination of the nematode is necessary for correct identification of the species.

Pest status and importance

In general, D. destructor is of minor importance as a pest of potatoes in the EPPO region. However, the requirement of the nematode for high relative humidity means it may be of concern to potato production in the northern parts of Europe. Damage may be significant if nematode populations increase in the field. Potato Rot Nematode is both a field and storage pest, as development of nematodes may continue in storage.

Source of information

See further information here:

Author: Jorma Rautapää
Editor: Elise T. Yamamoto Buch