Biotechnological application of functional genomics towards plant-parasitic nematode control


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Plant-parasitic nematodes are primary biotic factors limiting the crop production. Current nematode control strategies include nematicides, crop rotation and resistant cultivars, but each has serious limitations. RNA interference (RNAi) represents a major breakthrough in the application of functional genomics for plant-parasitic nematode control. RNAi-induced suppression of numerous genes essential for nematode development, reproduction or parasitism has been demonstrated, highlighting the considerable potential for using this strategy to control damaging pest populations. In an effort to find more suitable and effective gene targets for silencing, researchers are employing functional genomics methodologies, including genome sequencing and transcriptome profiling. Microarrays have been used for studying the interactions between nematodes and plant roots and to measure both plants and nematodes transcripts. Furthermore, laser capture microdissection has been applied for the precise dissection of nematode feeding sites (syncytia) to allow the study of gene expression specifically in syncytia. In the near future, small RNA sequencing techniques will provide more direct information for elucidating small RNA regulatory mechanisms in plants and specific gene silencing using artificial microRNAs should further improve the potential of targeted gene silencing as a strategy for nematode management.