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Application of biotechnology for nematode control in crop plants

Fosu-Nyarko, J. and Jones, M.G.K. (2015) Application of biotechnology for nematode control in crop plants. Advances in Botanical Research, 75 . pp. 339-376.

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Effective control of plant parasitic nematodes in crop plants will contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to global agriculture and help underpin future food security. Natural nematode resistance genes present in gene pools of crop species and their relatives have long been exploited with the aim of transferring such traits into economically important crops where effective resistance is lacking. Biotechnology also contributes to this process via marker-assisted selection to identify and combine the best nematode resistance genes, and increasingly in providing new knowledge of target genes, and the potential to exploit this knowledge using transgenic technology. Thus recent advances now make it possible to exploit specific aspects of nematode-host plant interactions to design control strategies that include enabling plants to prevent nematode invasion, reducing effectiveness of nematode migration through tissues, preventing successful establishment or reducing feeding ability or nematode fecundity. The knowledge of what genes are vital for successful nematode parasitism can also be used to develop new chemical control agents. These new strategies may either be available for public use or be delivered commercially. For transgenic technologies, both modes of delivery face the same issues in terms of deployment, such as substantial field testing, meeting environmental and human safety regulations, adequate funding to complete statutory requirements, and public acceptance of GMOs when the product is to be marketed. However, as technology develops, new strategies for nematode control are emerging, both for transgenic approaches and in genome editing, which should be regarded by regulators as a form of mutation rather than ‘genetic modification’. With such advances in biotechnology, the release of commercial varieties of major crops with new forms of nematode resistance, or new modes of delivery of control agents, is likely to become a commercial reality. To improve durability, transgenic traits could be based on resistance with different modes of action: for example, RNAi-based technology combined with expression of peptides which disrupt sensory activities. Ideally such traits would be added to existing crop genotypes with the best conventional or natural nematode resistance, to increase the effectiveness and durability of the nematode resistance trait. Biotech trait expression could also be limited to roots to minimise expression in harvested parts, and this could improve public acceptability.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: Western Australian State Agricultural Biotechnology Centre
Publisher: Academic Press Inc.
Copyright: © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.
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