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Exploration of nematode-secreted CLE Effectors for developing tools to accelerate nematode resistance breeding in crop plants
S. CHEN (1), X. Wang (2). (1) Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology Section, School of Integrative Plant Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, U.S.A.; (2) USDA-ARS, Robert W. Holley Center for Agriculture and Health, Ithaca, NY, U.S.A.

Like other biotrophic pathogens, plant-parasitic nematodes secrete effector proteins into host plant cells to facilitate successful infection. CLE effectors, identified in cyst nematodes including the regulated potato cyst nematodes (PCN; <i>Globodera rostochiensis </i>and <i>G. pallida</i>), can mimic plant CLE peptide hormones to modulate plant developmental pathways, thereby promoting nematode parasitism. Transgenic potato plants expressing dsRNA targeting the PCN <i>CLE</i> gene showed increased resistance to PCN infection, suggesting that plant-delivered RNAi represents a valuable means for generating novel nematode resistance in crop plants. We have further identified a receptor StCLV2 in potato found to interact with PCN-secreted CLE peptides. Significantly, transgenic potato plants with reduced <i>StCLV2</i> expression showed enhanced resistance to the two PCN species, indicating that interference of the CLV2-mediated signaling pathway may result in broad-spectrum nematode resistance in potato. Experiments are underway to identify nonfunctional receptor alleles that fail to perceive PCN-secreted CLE peptides through screening of wild <i>Solanum</i> species. Due to the critical role of nematode CLE mediated signaling in parasitism, we expect that manipulating CLE receptors in the host, such as through genome editing, offers a powerful method for accelerated nematode resistance breeding in crop plants.

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