Not to be suppressed? Rethinking the host response at a root-parasite interface

Derek B. Goto, Hikota Miyazawa, Jessica C. Mar, Masanao Sato

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Root-knot nematodes are highly efficient plant parasites that establish permanent feeding sites within host roots. The initiation of this feeding site is critical for parasitic success and requires an interaction with multiple signaling pathways involved in plant development and environmental response. Resistance against root-knot nematodes is relatively rare amongst their broad host range and they remain a major threat to agriculture. The development of effective and sustainable control strategies depends on understanding how host signaling pathways are manipulated during invasion of susceptible hosts. It is generally understood that root-knot nematodes either suppress host defense signaling during infestation or are able to avoid detection altogether, explaining their profound success as parasites. However, when compared to the depth of knowledge from other well-studied pathogen interactions, the published data on host responses to root-knot nematode infestation do not yet provide convincing support for this hypothesis and alternative explanations also exist. It is equally possible that defense-like signaling responses are actually induced and required during the early stages of root-knot nematode infestation. We describe how defense-signaling is highly context-dependent and that caution is necessary when interpreting transcriptional responses in the absence of appropriate control data or stringent validation of gene annotation. Further hypothesis-driven studies on host defense-like responses are required to account for these limitations and advance our understanding of root-knot nematode parasitism of plants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-17
Number of pages9
JournalPlant Science
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • Annotation error
  • Defense signaling
  • Host response
  • Plant parasite
  • Root infestation
  • Root-knot nematodes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


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