Nematode gene sequencing is completed

Sept. 10, 2008 at 10:18 AM
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AMES, Iowa, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say they've contributed to the sequencing of one of the world's most destructive parasites -- the southern root-knot nematode.

Nematodes are small worms that burrow into plant roots, causing an estimated $157 billion in agricultural damage each year. Researchers said sequencing the genome might pave the way for research on ways to fight the pest.

"This is considered to be one of, if not the most important plant-parasitic nematode species across the world," said Iowa State University Professor Thomas Baum, who participated in the project. Baum said root-knot nematodes are important because they can be found nearly anywhere in the world and on almost any plant.

The annotated genome project was led by Pierre Abad of the National Institute for Agricultural Research, a French research group, with help from researchers in Belgium, Holland, Great Britain, Switzerland and the United States.

Baum's group included researchers Tarek Hewezi and Tom Maier. They worked on a specific part of the genome and performed manual annotations of genes. North Carolina State University Professor Eric Davis and researcher Noureddine Hamamouch identified the full suite of predicted parasitism genes.

The annotated genome was reported in the journal Nature Biotechnology.

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