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UGA scientists engineer root-knot nematode resistance

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Using a technique called RNA interference, the researchers have effectively turned the nematode's biology against itself. They genetically modified Arabidopsis, a model plant, to produce double-stranded RNA to knock out the specific parasitism gene in the nematode when it feeds on the plant roots.

This knocked out the parasitism gene in the nematode and disrupted its ability to infect plants.

"No natural root-knot resistance gene has this effective range of root-knot nematode resistance," Hussey said.

The researchers' efforts have been directed primarily at understanding the molecular tools the nematode uses to infect plants. This is a prerequisite for bioengineering durable resistance to these nematodes in crop plants.

Through this research, they've discovered the parasitism genes that make a nematode a plant parasite so it can attack and feed on crops, Huang said.

"Our results of in-plant RNA interference silencing of a parasitism gene in root-knot nematodes provides a way to develop crops with broad resistance to this destructive pathogen," Hussey said. "Equally important, our approach makes available a strategy for developing root-knot-nematode-resistant crops for which natural resistance genes do not exist."


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Source:University of Georgia


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