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Plant Cell Physiol. 2003 Nov;44(11):1176-84.

Lotus japonicus: a new model to study root-parasitic nematodes.

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Center for the Biology of Nematode Parasitism, Box 7253, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7253, U.S.A.


Sedentary plant-parasitic nematodes engage in complex interactions, and induce specialized feeding structures by redirecting plant developmental pathways, and parallels have been observed with rhizobial nodule development on legumes. A model legume would greatly facilitate a better understanding of the differences between parasitic (nematode) and mutualistic (rhizobia and mycorrhizae) symbioses, and we have developed Lotus japonicus as such a model. Conditions for efficient parasitism by root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne spp.) of the widely used Lotus "Gifu" ecotype were established. Features of Lotus biology, such as thin and translucent roots, proved ideal for monitoring the progress of nematode infection both on live specimens and post-staining. We examined L. japonicus mutants with nodulation phenotypes. One, har1, which is a hypernodulated mutant defective in a CLAVATA1-like receptor kinase gene, was found to be hyperinfected by M. incognita. However, another hypernodulated Lotus mutant exhibited the same level of M. incognita infection as wild-type plants. We also established conditions for infection of Lotus by soybean cyst nematode (Heterodera glycines). In contrast to the response to root-knot nematode, the Gifu ecotype is resistant to H. glycines, and elicits a hypersensitive response. This pattern of resistance recapitulates that seen on nematode-resistant soybean plants. We conclude that L. japonicus is a powerful model legume for studying compatible and incompatible plant-nematode interactions.

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