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Annu Rev Phytopathol. 2006;44:283-303.

A model plant pathogen from the kingdom Animalia: Heterodera glycines, the soybean cyst nematode.

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Department of Crop Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA.


The soybean cyst nematode, Heterodera glycines, adversely affects the production of soybean, Glycine max, in many areas of the world, particularly in the United States, where it is the most economically important soybean pathogen. Despite the availability of hundreds of H. glycines-resistant soybean cultivars, the nematode continues to be a major limiting factor in soybean production. The use of nonhost rotation and resistance are the primary means of reducing losses caused by the nematode, but each of these options has disadvantages. As a subject for study of nematode parasitism and virulence, H. glycines provides a useful model despite its obligately parasitic nature. Its obligately sexual reproduction and ready adaptation to resistant cultivars, formerly referred to as "race shift," presents an excellent opportunity for the study of virulence in nematodes. Recent advances in H. glycines genomics have helped identify putative nematode parasitism genes, which, in turn, will aid in the understanding of nematode pathogenicity and virulence and may provide new targets for engineering nematode resistance.

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