CORDIS - EU research results

Unlocking mechanisms of cyst Nematode Hatching for sustainable cyst nematode control

Project description

Parasitic worms may soon miss their call to action, saving food crops from destruction

Nematodes are the most abundant multicellular animals on earth, with nearly 20 000 known species. These roundworms range in size from a fraction of a millimetre to over eight metres long. They are frequently found in water and soil, and many are parasites of insects, plants and animals. Cyst nematodes are among them, with more than 75 recorded species, and they are responsible for significant crop loss, threatening global food security. As the use of many pesticides targeting them has been restricted, other means of management are desperately needed. The EU-funded NemHatch project is developing a natural remedy. Cyst nematodes, as their name suggests, form cysts in which their eggs are retained. NemHatch plans to disrupt the signalling molecules – called hatching stimulants – that normally cause the eggs to hatch, for a safe and natural solution to infection.


Cyst nematodes worldwide attack agricultural crops such as potato, sugar beet, rice and soybean and cause large losses in their yield. There is a great need for developing new control methods for cyst nematodes because 1) resistance in cultivars is overcome, 2) crop rotation is problematic and 3) most of the nematicides are banned. Plant roots secrete triterpenoid-like signaling molecules into the soil that are known to induce hatching of cyst nematodes, called hatching stimulants (HSs). In NemHatch, I will develop a new strategy to control cyst nematodes by manipulating the signaling relation – mediated by the HSs - between the host plant and the cyst nematodes.
I will first create contrasting potato lines with different HS production by phenotyping potato genotypes and applying abiotic factors and stress hormones. Then I will use bioinformatics, biochemistry and forward as well as reverse genetics approaches to elucidate the HS biosynthetic pathway and its regulatory mechanism. This will allow me to create and identify genotypes that differ in HS production so I can study their importance for PCN resistance and possibly other physiological processes in the host plant. I will both obtain and transfer knowledge by secondment and visits to industrial partners.
This project will expand my expertise in secondary metabolite biosynthesis with an ecological twist on the communication of plants with their abiotic and biotic environment, and I will learn advanced molecular breeding techniques. In addition, I will gain several skills such as project and IPR management. Vice versa, I will bring my expertise on triterpenoid biosynthesis and my molecular biology skills to the host. NemHatch will provide the fundamental knowledge enabling biotechnological and agronomical applications to control cyst nematodes and give me the chance to reach a state of professional maturity that will allow me to find an (independent) position in academia or industry.


Net EU contribution
€ 177 598,80
1012WX Amsterdam

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West-Nederland Noord-Holland Groot-Amsterdam
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 177 598,80