Project description:Root-knot nematodes (RKN) such as Meloidogyne spp. are among the most detrimental pests in agriculture affecting several crops. New methodologies to manage RKN are needed such as efficient discovery of nematophagous microbes. In this study, we developed an in vitro high-throughput method relying on the free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and the infection of those nematodes with a soil slurry containing a microbiome likely to house nematophagous microbes. Nematodes were monitored for presence of infection and sub-cultured repeatedly for the purpose of isolating pure cultures of the microbe responsible for conferring the nematicidal activity. Once soil microbes were confirmed to be antagonistic to C. elegans, they were tested for pathogenicity against Meloidogyne chitwoodi. Using this methodology, the fungal isolate Mortierella globalpina was confirmed to be pathogenic in vitro against M. chitwoodi by nematode trapping via hyphal adhesion to the cuticle layer, penetration of the cuticle layer, and subsequently digestion of its cellular contents. M. globalpina was also observed to reduce disease symptomology of RKNs in vivo via significant reduction of root-galls on tomato (Solanum lycopersicum var. Rutgers).
Project description:Apple replant disease (ARD) is a severe problem in apple production worldwide. It is caused by a complex of soil biota, leading to small discolorated roots, as well as increased biosynthesis of phytoalexins, total phenolic compounds and antioxidants. We sampled soil from randomized field plots with either apple trees affected by ARD, which were five times replanted every second year, or with healthy trees growing in plots, which had a grass cover during this period. We investigated the contribution of nematodes to ARD by dissecting the soil biota from plots infested with ARD and non-infested control plots into a nematode and a microbe fraction. Nematode communities significantly differed between ARD and control soil as revealed by high-throughput sequencing of 18S rRNA genes. Plant-parasitic nematodes were too low in abundance to explain root damage, and did not significantly differ between ARD and control soil. Their separate and synergistic effect on ARD symptoms of susceptible M26 apple rootstocks was analyzed 4 and 8 weeks after inoculation in three greenhouse experiments. Inoculants were either nematodes from ARD plots (NARD), NARD plus microbes from ARD plots (MARD), NARD plus microbes from control plots (MCon), nematodes from control plots NCon plus MARD, NCon plus MCon, MARD, or MCon, or non-inoculated control. In all three experiments, the combination NARD plus MARD had the strongest adverse effect on the plants, with respect to growth parameters of shoots and roots, total phenolic compounds and phytoalexins in roots, and antioxidants in leaves. NARD also induced ARD but less than NARD plus MARD. NARD plus MCon had delayed effects on the plants compared to NARD plus MARD, suggesting that detrimental nematode-microbe interactions built up with time. Effects of MARD or NCon plus MARD were minor or not distinguishable from those of MCon or non-inoculated control. Overall, the source of the inoculated nematodes -ARD or control soil- and the interaction between ARD nematodes and microbes were highly significant factors determining ARD. In conclusion, exploring the associations of nematodes and microbes in ARD soils will give the chance to unravel the etiology of ARD.
Project description:Acidic mammalian chitinase (AMCase) is known to be induced by allergens and helminths, yet its role in immunity is unclear. Using AMCase-deficient mice, we show that AMCase deficiency reduced the number of group 2 innate lymphoid cells during allergen challenge but was not required for establishment of type 2 inflammation in the lung in response to allergens or helminths. In contrast, AMCase-deficient mice showed a profound defect in type 2 immunity following infection with the chitin-containing gastrointestinal nematodes Nippostrongylus brasiliensis and Heligmosomoides polygyrus bakeri. The impaired immunity was associated with reduced mucus production and decreased intestinal expression of the signature type 2 response genes Il13, Chil3, Retnlb, and Clca1. CD103(+) dendritic cells, which regulate T cell homing, were also reduced in mesenteric lymph nodes of infected AMCase-deficient mice. Thus, AMCase functions as a critical initiator of protective type 2 responses to intestinal nematodes but is largely dispensable for allergic responses in the lung.
Project description:Self-fertile hermaphrodites have evolved independently several times in the genus Caenorhabditis [1, 2]. These XX hermaphrodites make smaller sperm than males [3, 4], which they use to fertilize their own oocytes. Because larger sperm outcompete smaller sperm in nematodes [3-5], it had been assumed that this dimorphism evolved in response to sperm competition. However, we show that it was instead caused by a developmental bias. When we transformed females of the species Caenorhabditis remanei into hermaphrodites , their sperm were significantly smaller than those of males. Because this species never makes hermaphrodites in the wild, this dimorphism cannot be due to selection. Instead, analyses of the related nematode Caenorhabditis elegans suggest that this dimorphism might reflect the development of sperm within the distinct physiological environment of the hermaphrodite gonad. These results reveal a new mechanism for some types of developmental bias-the effects of a novel physical location alter the development of ectopic cells in predictable ways.
Project description:While RNA interference (RNAi) has been deployed to facilitate gene function studies in diverse helminths, parasitic nematodes appear variably susceptible. To test if this is due to inter-species differences in RNAi effector complements, we performed a primary sequence similarity survey for orthologs of 77 Caenorhabditis elegans RNAi pathway proteins in 13 nematode species for which genomic or transcriptomic datasets were available, with all outputs subjected to domain-structure verification. Our dataset spanned transcriptomes of Ancylostoma caninum and Oesophagostomum dentatum, and genomes of Trichinella spiralis, Ascaris suum, Brugia malayi, Haemonchus contortus, Meloidogyne hapla, Meloidogyne incognita and Pristionchus pacificus, as well as the Caenorhabditis species C. brenneri, C. briggsae, C. japonica and C. remanei, and revealed that: (i) Most of the C. elegans proteins responsible for uptake and spread of exogenously applied double stranded (ds)RNA are absent from parasitic species, including RNAi-competent plant-nematodes; (ii) The Argonautes (AGOs) responsible for gene expression regulation in C. elegans are broadly conserved, unlike those recruited during the induction of RNAi by exogenous dsRNA; (iii) Secondary Argonautes (SAGOs) are poorly conserved, and the nuclear AGO NRDE-3 was not identified in any parasite; (iv) All five Caenorhabditis spp. possess an expanded RNAi effector repertoire relative to the parasitic nematodes, consistent with the propensity for gene loss in nematode parasites; (v) In spite of the quantitative differences in RNAi effector complements across nematode species, all displayed qualitatively similar coverage of functional protein groups. In summary, we could not identify RNAi effector deficiencies that associate with reduced susceptibility in parasitic nematodes. Indeed, similarities in the RNAi effector complements of RNAi refractory and competent nematode parasites support the broad applicability of this research genetic tool in nematodes.
Project description:How do very small animals with limited long-distance dispersal abilities move between locations, especially if they prefer ephemeral micro-habitats that are only available for short periods of time? The free-living model nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and several congeneric taxa appear to be common in such short-lived environments, for example decomposing fruits or other rotting plant material. Dispersal is usually assumed to depend on animal vectors, yet all current data is based on only a limited number of studies. In our project we performed three comprehensive field surveys on possible invertebrate vectors in North German locations containing populations of C. elegans and two related species, especially C. remanei, and combined these screens with an experimental analysis of persistence in one of the vector taxa.Our field survey revealed that Caenorhabditis nematodes are commonly found in slugs, isopods, and chilopods, but are not present in the remaining taxonomic groups examined. Surprisingly, the nematodes were frequently isolated from the intestines of slugs, even if slugs were not collected in close association with suitable substrates for Caenorhabditis proliferation. This suggests that the nematodes are able to enter the slug intestines and persist for certain periods of time. Our experimental analysis confirmed the ability of C. elegans to invade slug intestines and subsequently be excreted alive with the slug feces, although only for short time periods under laboratory conditions.We conclude that three invertebrate taxonomic groups represent potential vectors of Caenorhabditis nematodes. The nematodes appear to have evolved specific adaptations to enter and persist in the harsh environment of slug intestines, possibly indicating first steps towards a parasitic life-style.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The complete genomes of three animals have been sequenced by global research efforts: a nematode worm (Caenorhabditis elegans), an insect (Drosophila melanogaster), and a vertebrate (Homo sapiens). Remarkably, their relationships have yet to be clarified. The confusion concerns the enigmatic position of nematodes. Traditionally, nematodes have occupied a basal position, in part because they lack a true body cavity. However, the leading hypothesis now joins nematodes with arthropods in a molting clade, Ecdysozoa, based on data from several genes. RESULTS:We tested the Ecdysozoa hypothesis with analyses of more than 100 nuclear protein alignments, under conditions that would expose biases, and found that it was not supported. Instead, we found significant support for the traditional hypothesis, Coelomata. Our result is robust to different rates of sequence change among genes and lineages, different numbers of taxa, and different species of nematodes. CONCLUSION:We conclude that insects (arthropods) are genetically and evolutionarily closer to humans than to nematode worms.
Project description:Understanding the mechanisms of host-pathogen interaction can provide crucial information for successfully manipulating their relationships. Because of its genetic background and practical advantages over vertebrate model systems, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans model has become an attractive host for studying microbial pathogenesis. Here we report a "Trojan horse" mechanism of bacterial pathogenesis against nematodes. We show that the bacterium Bacillus nematocida B16 lures nematodes by emitting potent volatile organic compounds that are much more attractive to worms than those from ordinary dietary bacteria. Seventeen B. nematocida-attractant volatile organic compounds are identified, and seven are individually confirmed to lure nematodes. Once the bacteria enter the intestine of nematodes, they secrete two proteases with broad substrate ranges but preferentially target essential intestinal proteins, leading to nematode death. This Trojan horse pattern of bacterium-nematode interaction enriches our understanding of microbial pathogenesis.
Project description:Under harsh environmental conditions, Caenorhabditis elegans larvae undergo arrest and form dauer larvae that can attach to other animals to facilitate dispersal. It has been argued that this phenomenon, called phoresy, represents an intermediate step toward parasitism. Indeed, parasitic nematodes invade their hosts as infective larvae, a stage that shows striking morphological similarities to dauer larvae. Although the molecular regulation of dauer entry in C. elegans involves insulin and TGF-beta signaling, studies of TGF-beta orthologs in parasitic nematodes didn't provide evidence for a common origin of dauer and infective larvae. To identify conserved regulators between Caenorhabditis and parasitic nematodes, we used an evolutionary approach involving Pristionchus pacificus as an intermediate. We show by mutational and pharmacological analysis that Pristionchus and Caenorhabditis share the dafachronic acid-DAF-12 system as the core endocrine module for dauer formation. One dafachronic acid, Delta7-DA, has a conserved role in the mammalian parasite Strongyloides papillosus by controlling entry into the infective stage. Application of Delta7-DA blocks formation of infective larvae and results in free-living animals. Conservation of this small molecule ligand represents a fundamental link between dauer and infective larvae and might provide a general strategy for nematode parasitism.
Project description:Pleiotropic developmental regulators have been repeatedly linked to the evolution of anatomical novelties. Known mechanisms include cis-regulatory DNA changes that alter regulator transcription patterns or modify target-gene linkages. Here, we examine the role of another form of regulation, translational control, in the repeated evolution of self-fertile hermaphroditism in Caenorhabditis nematodes. Caenorhabditis elegans hermaphrodites initiate spermatogenesis in an otherwise female body through translational repression of the gene tra-2. This repression is mediated by GLD-1, an RNA-binding protein also required for oocyte meiosis and differentiation. By contrast, we show that in the convergently hermaphroditic Caenorhabditis briggsae, GLD-1 acts to promote oogenesis. The opposite functions of gld-1 in these species are not gene-intrinsic, but instead result from the unique contexts for its action that evolved in each. In C. elegans, GLD-1 became essential for promoting XX spermatogenesis via changes in the tra-2 mRNA and evolution of the species-specific protein FOG-2. C. briggsae GLD-1 became an essential repressor of sperm-promoting genes, including Cbr-puf-8, and did not evolve a strong association with tra-2. Despite its variable roles in sex determination, the function of gld-1 in female meiotic progression is ancient and conserved. This conserved role may explain why gld-1 is repeatedly recruited to regulate hermaphroditism. We conclude that, as with transcription factors, spatially localized translational regulators play important roles in the evolution of anatomical novelties.