North Carolina State University scientists and colleagues have completed the genome sequence and genetic map of one of the world's most common and destructive plant parasites - Meloidogyne hapla, a microscopic, soil-dwelling worm known more commonly as the northern root-knot nematode.
The research could help lead to a new generation of eco-friendly tools to manage the ubiquitous parasitic worm, which, along with other species of root-knot nematode, causes an estimated $50 billion in crop and plant damage yearly, says Dr. Charles Opperman, professor of plant pathology at NC State, co-director of the Center for the Biology of Nematode Parasitism and the corresponding author on a scientific paper describing the research. The resulting sequence data has been deposited in public databases, so other researchers interested in the root-knot nematode - how it develops, establishes a host-parasite interaction or evades host defenses, for example - are now able to use the map of the parasite's genes as a tool to discover more specific information about the parasite.
The northern root-knot nematode is the smallest multicellular animal genome completely sequenced, says Dr. David McK. Bird, professor of plant pathology at NC State, co-director of the Center for the Biology of Nematode Parasitism and a co-author of the paper.
The study is published online this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers from the University of California, Davis; the University of California, Berkeley; and the Joint Genome Institute also contributed to the research.
The northern root-knot nematode has been developed into a key model species in the study of plant-parasitic nematodes, and the completion of the genome sequence will further empower researchers to ask highly specific questions about the evolution and nature of parasitism. "A key facet to making M. hapla the premier model species for plant-parasitic nem
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North Carolina State University