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MU researchers discover new SCN link

Nematode Feeding Site” A nematode (oblong object on left) activates the vascular stem cell pathway in the developing nematode feeding site on a plant root. Credit: Xiaoli Guo

Missouri researchers have found that soybean cyst nematodes hijack the plant’s nutrient system so they can drain nutrients away from soybean plants.

University of Missouri researcher Melissa Goellner Mitchum tells Brownfield Ag News, “What the nematode’s doing is secreting peptides to make the andogenus plant peptides so they’ve triggered the formation of a feeding structure so they can siphon off these nutrients, so that they can develop and complete their life cycle.”

She tells Brownfield a university graduate student discovered the specific peptide that takes over plant stem cells — by using next generation sequencing technology, “This was a different type of peptide than we had been working with previously that we were unaware of and the only reason we were able to actually identify it was because we had these more advanced sequencing technologies to do that.”

Mitchum says finding out how parasitic nematodes modify host plants to their own benefit – will help breeders create pest resistant soybean plants.

Nematodes cause billions of dollars in crop losses throughout the world every year.

The study, funded in part by the National Science Foundation and the USDA, is published by PLOS Pathogens, a peer-reviewed, open access Journal.

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