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Keywords:

  • cell cycle;
  • feeding site;
  • Heterodera schachtii;
  • inverted repeat;
  • Meloidogyne incognita;
  • resistance;
  • silencing

Summary

The activity of the Arabidopsis thaliana cyclin-dependent kinase AtCDKA;1 is important throughout G1/S and G2/M transitions and guarantees the progression of the cell cycle. Inhibitor studies have shown that activation of the cell cycle is important for the development of nematode feeding sites. The aim of this study was to silence the expression of the AtCDKA;1 gene in nematode feeding sites to interfere with their development. Therefore, sense and antisense constructs were made for the AtCDKA;1 gene and fused to a nematode-inducible promoter which was activated in nematode feeding sites at an earlier time point than AtCDKA;1. Two transgenic A. thaliana lines (S266 and S306) containing inverted repeats of the AtCDKA;1 gene and with reduced AtCDKA;1 expression in seedlings and galls were analysed in more detail. When the lines were infected with the root-knot nematode Meloidogyne incognita, significantly fewer galls and egg masses developed on the roots of the transgenic than wild-type plants. Infection of the AtCDKA;1-silenced lines with Heterodera schachtii resulted in significantly fewer cysts compared with controls. The S266 and S306 lines showed no phenotypic aberrations in root morphology, and analysis at different time points after infection demonstrated that the number of penetrating nematodes was the same, but fewer nematodes developed to maturity in the silenced lines. In conclusion, our results demonstrate that silencing of CDKA;1 can be used as a strategy to produce transgenic plants less susceptible to plant-parasitic nematodes.