Genome of destructive plant parasite sequenced

September 24th, 2008 - 12:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 24 (IANS) Scientists have sequenced and mapped the genes of an ubiquitous and extremely destructive plant parasite, known as the northern root-knot nematode. The research could help open the way to a new generation of eco-friendly tools to manage the microscopic soil-dwelling worm which, along with other nematodes, causes an estimated $50 billion in crop and plant damage yearly, said Charles Opperman, professor of plant pathology at North Carolina (NC) State University and co-author of the report.

The resulting sequence data has been deposited in public databases, so other researchers interested in the nematode are now able to use the map of the parasite’s genes as a tool to discover more specific information about the parasite, reports Eurekalert. The study was published online this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The northern root-knot nematode is the smallest multicellular animal genome completely sequenced, said David McK. Bird, also a professor of plant pathology at NC State, co-director of the Centre for the Biology of Nematode Parasitism and a co-author of the report.

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