Submitted to: BARC Poster Day
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: March 19, 1998
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Plant-parasitic nematodes are major pests of all economically important crops, causing nearly $10 billion in annual losses nationwide. Effective control of these pests has been limited, due to the scarcity of genetic host resistance for most crop species. Expensive, highly toxic nematicides are often the only viable control option. However, several nematicides are efacing imminent regulatory action to eliminate their use, which will seriously jeopardize profitable production of several crops. Therefore, an urgent need exists to develop environmentally safe, target-specific means for managing plant-parasitic nematodes. Little is known about plant- parasitic nematode development, but the use of molecular-genetics should help to identify the molecules controlling growth, development, and sex- determination in these pests. Plant-parasitic nematodes undergo obligate developmental arrest at the infective juvenile stage, analogous to a developmentally arrested form (the dauer) of Caenorhabditis elegans. Fortunately, genetic tools and information are abundant for this free- living nematode. Several genes involved in dauer formation (daf genes) have been characterized by molecular genetics, including homologs for TGF- beta, insulin receptor, and retinoic acid receptor. We are using a PCR amplification approach to isolate daf gene homologs from soybean cyst and root-knot nematode genomic DNA. Using C. elegans techniques as a guide, we intend to develop the genetic and molecular tools necessary to efficiently characterize these genes, including mapping the genes and germline transformation technologies. A thorough molecular understanding how a nematode responds to environmental stimuli by altering its development will uncover novel targets for biological control agents.