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The “parasitism-readers” of the world’s most damaging plant-parasitic nematode Meloidogyne incognita: new avenues to address food global security.

Project description

Inhibiting parasitism of root-knot nematodes to prevent crop disease

Certain species of microscopic nematodes (roundworms) are parasitic to plants. Infestations of root-knot nematodes can be particularly destructive to a wide range of crop plants. Therefore, determining the agent that triggers their parasitic nature could lead to its inhibition and prevent crop loss. The EU-funded Mi-DOG project will investigate the genomic mechanism that causes the plant-parasitic nematode Meloidogyne incognita to infest plant roots, bringing about disease. Using knowledge of the non-coding DNA sequence of the nematode’s dorsal gland promoter, the project will identify the associated protein complex or “reader” that is responsible for plant parasitism using advanced CRISPR-mediated (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) methodologies.


My proposal aims to understand how root-knot nematodes cause disease in the host plant.

Understanding how these parasitic worms cause disease is important because they have a worldwide distribution, they infect thousands of different plant species, and ultimately they represent a major constraint on achieving food security in Europe and beyond.

In this proposal I will link my expertise in root-knot nematodes at molecular and proteomic levels, with the host group expertise in the regulation of parasitism genes, to understand how the most economically damaging root-knot nematode Meloidogyne incognita successfully controls the process of plant-parasitism.

My proposal builds on the recent discovery of a non-coding DNA motif that is specifically enriched in the promoter regions of approximately 100 genes expressed in the root-knot Meloidogyne incognita dorsal gland (named Mi-DOG box). This discovery leads to two important ideas: Firstly, given that many effector proteins produced in this gland are delivered into the plant during infection, the Mi-DOG promoter is probably involved in the regulation of parasitism. Secondly, being a non-coding DNA motif, the Mi-DOG box is probably recognized by an associated protein or protein complex, a “reader” that coordinates the expression of secreted parasitism proteins, and ultimately orchestrates the process of plant parasitism.

In a formal connection between two world-class research institutions, the main objectives of my proposal are therefore to: 1) Identify the “readers” of Mi-DOG box using a combination of well-established and highly-innovative CRISPR-mediated methodologies, and 2) characterize the spatio-temporal expression pattern and functional role of these “readers” in M. incognita parasitism.

Overall, my proposal describes a novel scientific approach to address an emerging area of great promise with considerable translational potential, and ultimately to open up my best career opportunities for the future.



Net EU contribution
€ 215 492,48
Boulevard du 11 novembre 1918 num43
69622 Villeurbanne cedex

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Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Rhône-Alpes Rhône
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Participants (1)