Transcriptional reprogramming by root knot and migratory nematode infection in rice


Author for correspondence:

Godelieve Gheysen

Tel: +32 92645888



  • Rice is one of the most important staple crops worldwide, but its yield is compromised by different pathogens, including plant-parasitic nematodes. In this study we have characterized specific and general responses of rice (Oryza sativa) roots challenged with two endoparasitic nematodes with very different modes of action.
  • Local transcriptional changes in rice roots upon root knot (Meloidogyne graminicola) and root rot nematode (RRN, Hirschmanniella oryzae) infection were studied at two time points (3 and 7 d after infection, dai), using mRNA-seq.
  • Our results confirm that root knot nematodes (RKNs), which feed as sedentary endoparasites, stimulate metabolic pathways in the root, and enhance nutrient transport towards the induced root gall. The migratory RRNs, on the other hand, induce programmed cell death and oxidative stress, and obstruct the normal metabolic activity of the root. While RRN infection causes up-regulation of biotic stress-related genes early in the infection, the sedentary RKNs suppress the local defense pathways (e.g. salicylic acid and ethylene pathways). Interestingly, hormone pathways mainly involved in plant development were strongly induced (gibberellin) or repressed (cytokinin) at 3 dai.
  • These results uncover previously unrecognized nematode-induced expression profiles related to their specific infection strategy.