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Mol Biochem Parasitol. 2007 Sep;155(1):9-17. Epub 2007 May 6.

Expressed sequence tag (EST) analysis of the pine wood nematode Bursaphelenchus xylophilus and B. mucronatus.

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  • 1Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8687, Japan. kikuchit@affrc.go.jp


Most Bursaphelenchus species feed on fungi that colonise dead or dying trees. However, Bursaphelenchus xylophilus is unique in that in addition to feeding on fungi it has the capacity to be a parasite of live pine trees. We present an analysis of over 13,000 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) from B. xylophilus and, by way of contrast, over 3000 ESTs from a closely related species that does not parasitise plants as readily; B. mucronatus. Four libraries from B. xylophilus, from a variety of life stages including fungal feeding nematodes, nematodes extracted from plants and dauer-like stage nematodes, and one library from B. mucronatus were constructed and used to generate ESTs. Contig analysis showed that the 13,327 B. xylophilus ESTs could be grouped into 2110 contigs and 4377 singletons giving a total of 6487 identified genes. Similarly the 3193 B. mucronatus ESTs yielded a total of 2219 identified genes from 425 contigs and 1794 singletons. A variety of proteins potentially important in the parasitic process of B. xylophilus and B. mucronatus, including plant and fungal cell wall degrading enzymes and a novel gene potentially encoding a expansin-like protein that may disrupt non-covalent bonds in the plant cell wall were identified in the libraries. Additionally several gene candidates potentially involved in dauer entry or maintenance were also identified in the EST dataset. The EST sequences from this study will provide a solid base for future research on the biology, pathogenicity and evolutionary history of this nematode group.

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