Radio Iowa 09-28-06 I-S-U researchers says they're making progress against nematode

Radio Iowa
I-S-U researchers says they're making progress against nematode
by Matt Kelley
Researchers at Iowa State University say they're making significant progress in
battling one of the planet's most notorious and destructive plant-gobbling worms.
I-S-U plant pathologist Thomas Baum says the root-knot nematode attacks
nearly every food and fiber plant grown, including many common vegetables, fruit
trees and ornamentals.
Baum says "It is a pathogen on a huge number of crop species. They infect the
roots of plants. They penetrate throughout the roots and then they start feeding in
the roots and that causes problems for the roots and the plant and the crop and
the yield of that crop species." Baum is a professor and chair of the Department
of Plant Pathology at I-S-U. He says the microscopic worm uses a few key tools
to thrive in plant roots.
He says they were able to deprive the nematode of one of those tools used in
eating roots, knocking out a gene that creates a protein so the nematode could
no longer infect plants, making the plant resistant to the nematode. Baum says
four major species of nematodes are responsible for about 95-percent of
agricultural infestations around the world. While the research is showing success,
Baum says the next step is making the findings practically available to the
Baum says "The most important aspect would by the soybean cyst nematode. In
similar projects, similar avenues are currently being followed, and we're exploring
whether we can use the same technology to make progress with the soybean
cyst nematode. We'll have to wait a year or two to know for sure whether it
works, but if it does, of course, there will be efforts underway to make this
available to soybean farmers."
Researchers at North Carolina State University and the University of Georgia are
also taking part in the ten-year research project. Results of the research were
published this week in the journal "Proceedings of the National Academy of