• Open Access

Delivery of macromolecules to plant parasitic nematodes using a tobacco rattle virus vector


* Correspondence (fax +44 1382 562426; e-mail tvalen@scri.sari.ac.uk)


Plant parasitic nematodes cause significant damage to crops on a worldwide scale. These nematodes are often soil dwelling but rely on plants for food and to sustain them during reproduction. Complex interactions occur between plants and nematodes during the nematode life cycle with plant roots developing specialized feeding structures through which nematodes withdraw nutrients. Here we describe a novel method for delivering macromolecules to feeding nematodes using a virus-based vector [tobacco rattle virus (TRV)]. We show that the parasitic nematode Heterodera schachtii will ingest fluorescent proteins transiently expressed in plant roots infected with a TRV construct carrying the appropriate protein sequence. A prerequisite for this delivery is the presence of replicating virus in root tips prior to the formation of nematode-induced syncytia. We show also that TRV vectors expressing nematode gene sequences can be used to induce RNAi in the feeding nematodes.