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Nematode pheromones protect major crops

13th August 2019

A paper by Daniel F. Klessig et al. titled “Nematode ascaroside enhances resistance in a broad spectrum of plant–pathogen systems” was published in 2019 by Journal of Phytopathology (vol. 167, pp. 265-272). The abstract is as follows:- Recognition of specific molecule signatures of microbes, including pathogens, induces innate immune responses in plants, as well as in animals. Analogously, a nematode pheromone, the ascaroside ascr#18, induces hallmark plant defences including activation of (a) mitogen‐activated protein kinases, (b) salicylic acid‐ and jasmonic acid‐mediated defence signalling pathways and (c) defence gene expression and provides protection to a broad spectrum of pathogens. Ascr#18 is a member of an evolutionarily conserved family of nematode signalling molecules and is the major ascaroside secreted by plant–parasitic nematodes. Here, we report the effects of ascr#18 on resistance in four of the major economically important crops: maize, rice, wheat and soybean to some of their associated pathogens. Treatment with low nanomolar to low micromolar concentrations of ascr#18 provided from partial to strong protection in seven of eight plant–pathogen systems tested with viruses, bacteria, fungi, oomycetes and nematodes. This research may have potential to improve agricultural sustainability by reducing use of potentially harmful agrochemicals and enhance food security worldwide.

Taken from the excellent ISPP Newsletter