Besides being extremely important for the development of new and effective management strategies, the researchers say that the information gleaned from the genome sequence and genetic map will help scientists learn more about what they call the "themes of parasitism."
"All parasites have to do the same things to infect their hosts, whether the hosts are plants, animals or humans," Bird says. "Plants offer an advantage over those systems because they are easier to manipulate experimentally, and enable us to perform detailed experiments not easily done in animals, and not possible in humans."
The study shows that M. hapla has a somewhat smaller genome when compared with other microscopic worms like Caenorhabditis elegans, one of the models of scientific studies of animals. The northern root-knot nematode genome might be smaller, the researchers say, because the inside of the host plant's root provides an isolated environment compared to the soil.
"Having 99 percent of the genome sequenced allows you to not only know what's there, but to compare it to other nematodes to see what's missing from this genome," Bird says. "Finding potential Achilles' heels, what the nematode is getting from the plant and how is it really interacting with the plant are all more possible now."
The genome's reduced size made it easier to assemble the sequence, Opperman says. "In combination with an extensive database of plant parasitic nematode expressed genes from a previous project led by our Center for the Biology of Nematode Parasitism, this system provides a powerful platform for study of these important parasites," he added.
|Contact: Mick Kulikowski|
North Carolina State University