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Plant J. 2010 Jun 1;62(6):1058-71. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2010.04217.x. Epub 2010 Mar 31.

Metabolic profiling reveals local and systemic responses of host plants to nematode parasitism.

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  • 1Department of Applied Plant Sciences and Plant Biotechnology, Institute of Plant Protection, BOKU - University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Vienna, Peter Jordan-Strasse 82, A-1190 Vienna, Austria.


The plant parasitic beet cyst nematode Heterodera schachtii induces syncytial feeding structures in Arabidopsis roots. The feeding structures form strong sink tissues that have been suggested to be metabolically highly active. In the present study, metabolic profiling and gene targeted expression analyses were performed in order to study the local and systemic effects of nematode infection on the plant host. The results showed increased levels of many amino acids and phosphorylated metabolites in syncytia, as well as high accumulation of specific sugars such as 1-kestose that do not accumulate naturally in Arabidopsis roots. A correlation-based network analysis revealed highly activated and coordinated metabolism in syncytia compared to non-infected control roots. An integrated analysis of the central primary metabolism showed a clear coherence of metabolite and transcript levels, indicating transcriptional regulation of specific pathways. Furthermore, systemic effects of nematode infection were demonstrated by correlation-based network analysis as well as independent component analysis. 1-kestose, raffinose, alpha,alpha-trehalose and three non-identified analytes showed clear systemic accumulation, indicating future potential for diagnostic and detailed metabolic analyses. Our studies open the door towards understanding the complex remodelling of plant metabolism in favour of the parasitizing nematode.

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