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David Sparks Ph.d Hijacking Nematodes
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Line on Agriculture
Date: July 20, 2017

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The xylem — the dead cells that pipe water and nutrients up and down the plant — requires a particular type of peptide that connects with just the right receptor to start the process. But for a nematode, the plan is to hijack the plant’s plan and make plant cells feed it. Research from the University of Missouri lab of Dr. Melissa Mitchum recently pinpointed a new way nematodes take over root cells. "What we are trying to do is try to understand how it works that we can interfere with the process. If we can block those peptides from the nematode being able to secrete them, and we have even gone as far as identifying how those peptides are perceived by the plant, to trigger a response, so what we're trying to do is find a way to interfere with that process so that we can make plants more resistant to the nematode and we have other data that we have shown in the paper that if we knock out the gene in the plant, that the plant uses to detect these peptides, that we get enhanced resistance of the plant. So now we have the challenge in front of us to try and translate all of this into an application for the farmer, whether it's potatoes soybeans or sugar beets. That's where we are starting to work now is how do we take the discovery and translate it so we can turn this into a more resistant plant that will create a better yield for farmers.


Dr. Mitchum says that all of this genetic manipulation is not the same as GMO.

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