Unlocking the 'Effector Toolkit' of Plant-Parasitic Nematodes: A Path to Alter Physiology and Development

Author(s): Zobaer Ahmed

Plant parasites take advantage of host developmental plasticity to elicit profound developmental and physiological changes. In the case of plant-parasitic nematodes (PPNs), these changes can result in the development of new plant organs. Despite the importance of the development- and physiology-altering abilities of these parasites in pathology, research has historically focused on their abilities to suppress immunity. We argue that, given the dramatic changes involved in feeding site establishment, it is entirely possible that development- and physiology-altering abilities of PPNs may, in fact, dominate effector repertoires – highlighting the need for novel high-throughput screens for development- and physiology-altering ‘tools’. Uncovering this portion of the nematode ‘toolbox’ can enable biotechnology, enhance crop protection, and shed light on fundamental host biology itself.