, Volume 224, Issue 1, pp 155-162

Expression of a plant expansin is involved in the establishment of root knot nematode parasitism in tomato

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Abstract

A group of plant proteins, expansins, have been identified as wall-loosening factors and as facilitators of cell expansion in vivo. The root knot nematode Meloidogyne javanica establishes a permanent feeding site composed of giant cells surrounded by gall tissue. We used quantitative PCR and in situ localization to demonstrate the induction of a tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum cv. VF36) expansin (LeEXPA5) expression in gall cells adjacent to the nematode feeding cells. To further characterize the biological role of LeEXPA5 we have generated LeEXPA5-antisense transgenic roots. The ability of the nematode to establish a feeding site and complete its life cycle, the average root cell size and the rate of root elongation were determined for the transgenic roots, as well as the level of LeEXPA5 expression in non-infected and nematode-infected roots. Our results demonstrated that a decrease of LeEXPA5 expression reduces the ability of the nematode to complete its life cycle in transgenic roots. We suggest that a plant-originated expansin is necessary for a successful parasitic nematode–plant interaction.