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An Arabidopsis thaliana Pectin Acetylesterase Gene Is Upregulated in Nematode Feeding Sites Induced by Root-knot and Cyst Nematodes

April 2002 , Volume 15 , Number  4
Pages  404 - 407

Isabel Vercauteren , Janice de Almeida Engler , Ruth De Groodt , and Godelieve Gheysen

Vakgroep Moleculaire Genetica and Departement Plantengenetica, Vlaams Interuniversitair Instituut voor Biotechnologie (VIB), Universiteit Gent, K.L. Ledeganckstraat 35, B-9000 Gent, Belgium

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Accepted 14 December 2001.

By using differential display, gene expression was investigated in Arabidopsis thaliana roots shortly after nematode infection, and a putative pectin acetylesterase (PAE) homolog (DiDi 9C-12) was found to be upregulated. PAEs catalyze the deacetylation of pectin, a major compound of primary cell walls. mRNA in situ hybridization experiments showed that the expression of DiDi 9C-12 was enhanced very early after infection in initiating giant-cells and in cells surrounding the nematodes. Later on, the level of DiDi 9C-12 mRNA was lower in giant-cells and transcripts were mainly found in parenchyma, endodermis, and pericycle cells of the root gall. Twenty days after infection, DiDi 9C-12 transcripts could no longer be detected. DiDi 9C-12 transcripts were also found in young syncytia and in the cells surrounding the expanding syncytium. Our results suggest that plant parasitic nematodes can modulate the rapid growth of the feeding cells and the expansion of the root gall by triggering the expression of DiDi 9C-12. PAEs, which probably act together with a range of other pectin-degrading enzymes, could be involved in softening and loosening the primary cell wall in nematode-infected plant roots.

Additional keywords: Heterodera schachtii , Meloidogyne incognita.

© 2002 The American Phytopathological Society