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An overview of plant genes activated by nematodes during feeding site induction and proliferation

The feeding sites induced by sedentary root endoparasitic nematodes have long fascinated researchers. Nematode feeding sites are constructed from plant cells, modified by the nematode to feed itself. Powerful new techniques are allowing us to begin to elucidate the molecular mechanisms that produce the ultrastructural features in nematode feeding cells. Many plant genes that are expressed in feeding sites produced by different nematodes have been identified in several plant species.

Nematode-responsive plant genes can now be grouped in categories related to plant developmental pathways and their roles in the making of a feeding site can be illuminated.

The black box of how nematodes bring about such elaborate cell differentiation in the plant is also starting to open. Although the information is far from complete, the groundwork is set so that the functions of the plant and nematode genes in feeding site development can begin to be assessed.

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