Molecular interactions between plants and sedentary nematodes: host recognition processes

Lead Research Organisation: Rothamsted Research
Department Name: Unlisted


Understanding the complexity of the molecular signal exchange and response during nematode invasion is important to identify vulnerable points in the parasitic life cycle that can be targeted to disrupt nematode-host-recognition. The project aims to understand host-recognition processes, signalling and perception and to identify targets for the development of nematode resistant plants or for chemical intervention. Plant signals, including phytohormones, present in root exudates, trigger a rapid alteration of the surface cuticle of sedentary plant parasitic nematodes. It is hypothesised that this surface change might allow these nematodes to adapt and survive plant defence processes. We will identify plant compounds involved in host-recognition and the nematode genes mediating the perception and transport of host signals in the nematode chemosensory organs. Functional characterisation and localisation in the nematode of the identified nematode genes involved in host-recognition will be carried out using RNAi and in situ hybridisation, respectively. Defense responses (metabolites) and release of compounds into the rhizosphere induced by external plant activators will be studied for their effect on sedentary plant parasitic nematodes. In our lab, plant cysteine proteinases have been shown to cause progressive damage of the cuticle of the infective juveniles of plant parasitic nematodes and affect their behaviour and the mobility (US patent 2008). These enzymes have the potential for controlling plant parasitic nematodes when applied into infected soil or when secreted into the rhizosphere. This project also aims to identify the cuticular protein(s) sensitive to digestion by plant cysteine proteinases as they represent potential targets for the development of novel measures to control plant nematodes.The project brings together nematologists and plant scientists and chemical ecologists with experience in plant signalling, at Rothamsted.


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