Nematode control regulators identified
Researchers from the UK’s Rothamstead Research and Kenya’s Nairobi University have identified a series of abiotic factors that affect the pathogenicity of the nematophagous fungus, Pochonia chlamydosporia. The fungus, which is a potential biocontrol agent, is a facultative parasite of the eggs of root knot nematodes ( Meloidogyne spp). It uses a subtilisin-like alkaline serine protease to breach the outer egg membrane when switching from a saprophytic to a parasitic mode. There is no simple relationship between fungal abundance in soil and parasitic activity, which is significantly affected by nutrition. Knowing how the expression levels of the gene that produces the enzyme involved, VCP1, are regulated is critical for ensuring its efficacy as a biocontrol agent, the researchers note.