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Mol Plant Pathol. 2008 May;9(3):357-68. doi: 10.1111/j.1364-3703.2007.00461.x.

Bursaphelenchus xylophilus: opportunities in comparative genomics and molecular host-parasite interactions.

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  • 1PPP Programme, SCRI, Invergowrie, Dundee DD2 5DA, UK.


Most Bursaphelenchus species are fungal feeding nematodes that colonize dead or dying trees. However, Bursaphelenchus xylophilus, the pine wood nematode, is also a pathogen of trees and is the causal agent of pine wilt disease. B. xylophilus is native to North America and here it causes little damage to trees. Where it is introduced to new regions it causes huge damage. The most severely affected areas are found in the Far East but more recently B. xylophilus has been introduced into Portugal and the potential for damage here is also high. As incidence and severity of pine wilt disease are linked to temperature we suggest that climate change is likely to exacerbate the problems caused by B. xylophilus and, in addition, will extend (northwards in Europe) the range in which pine wilt disease can occur. Here we review what is currently known about the interactions of B. xylophilus with its hosts, including recent developments in our understanding of the molecular biology of pathogenicity in the nematode. We also examine the potential developments that could be made by more widespread use of genomics tools to understand interactions between B. xylophilus, bacterial pathogens that have been implicated in disease and host trees.

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