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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Chitwood, David

Submitted to: Physiology & Biochemistry of Plant Parasitic & Free Living Nematodes
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/29/1998
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Plant-parasitic nematodes are microscopic soil worms that cause eight billion dollars of agricultural losses in the United States each year. Environmentally safe control methods for these losses are urgently needed. Free-living nematodes are relatives of plant-parasitic nematodes and are important in the nutrient recycling within soils and are also useful because scientists employ them as model organisms to study the biochemistry of plant-parasitic nematodes, as the latter can be studied only with great difficulty. One method of developing new control methods for plant-parasitic nematodes is to look for basic differences between the biochemistry of nematodes and plants and then to develop methods of exploiting such differences; one problem with this approach is that very few differences exist between the basic biosynthetic machinery of plants and nematodes. Therefore, this book chapter reviews studies on the biosynthesis of chemical components within nematode cells; the paper also examines some of the biosynthetic differences between nematodes and plants. Many different kinds of biochemicals within plants are examined, and 188 literature references are included. This review will be useful to scientists developing novel methods for nematode control; such research will eventually benefit the public by providing alternatives to currently available nematicides.

Technical Abstract: This review focuses on the basic anabolic pathways involved in the biosynthesis of diverse compounds by plant-parasitic and free-living nematodes. When necessary, deduced protein sequences obtained from the Caenorhabditis elegans genome sequencing project are used to make conclusions about likely pathways within nematodes. Specific classes of compounds discussed include amino acids, polyamines, small polypeptides, nucleic acids, proteins, carbohydrates, fatty acids, complex lipids, sterols, lipoproteins, proteolipids, and miscellaneous compounds. Although interesting from an academic perspective, this type of research can yield the discovery of compounds with nematode-antagonistic potential. Several examples of processes or molecules unique to nematodes or greatly different from similar processes or molecules in higher plants include the following: sterol dealkylation, sterol methylation, ether lipids, branched sphingoid bases, the glyoxylate cycle, trans-splicing of operon-encoded genetic message, small polypeptides, and unusual mitochondrial transfer RNA's. Any of these could be used in the design of novel control agents for nematodes. As the C. elegans genome sequencing project progresses, one can expect remarkable discoveries with respect to the function of nematode-specific components in nematode physiology and in plant-nematode interactions.

Last Modified: 05/28/2017
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