, Volume 43, Issue 5-6, pp 747-761

Cell cycle activation by plant parasitic nematodes

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Sedentary nematodes are important pests of crop plants. They are biotrophic parasites that can induce the (re)differentiation of either differentiated or undifferentiated plant cells into specialized feeding cells. This (re)differentiation includes the reactivation of the cell cycle in specific plant cells finally resulting in a transfer cell-like feeding site. For growth and development the nematodes fully depend on these cells. The mechanisms underlying the ability of these nematodes to manipulate a plant for its own benefit are unknown. Nematode secretions are thought to play a key role both in plant penetration and feeding cell induction. Research on plant-nematode interactions is hampered by the minute size of cyst and root knot nematodes, their obligatory biotrophic nature and their relatively long life cycle. Recently, insights into cell cycle control in Arabidopsis thaliana in combination with reporter gene technologies showed the differential activation of cell cycle gene promoters upon infection with cyst or root knot nematodes. In this review, we integrate the current views of plant cell fate manipulation by these sedentary nematodes and made an inventory of possible links between cell cycle activation and local, nematode-induced changes in auxin levels.