Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Plant and Environmental Science

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Paula Agudelo

Committee Member

Dr. Christina Wells

Committee Member

Dr. Patrick Gerard


Reniform nematode, Rotelynchulus reniformis, is a semi-endoparasite capable of infecting more that 300 host plant species in tropical, subtropical, and warm temperate regions. Female nematodes penetrate host roots and introduce effectors that lead to the formation of multinucleate feeding sites called syncytia. The objective of our study was to identify plant genes involved in the process of syncitium formation. We used a split-root system in which half of a plant’s roots were inoculated with R. reniformis while the rest of the root system remained uninfected. Illumina RNA-seq was used to quantify gene expression patterns in replicate samples of infected and uninfected root tissue at three, six, nine and twelve days after inoculation. Reads were mapped to the soybean reference genome using TopHat, transcript abundances were calculated with HTSeq, and genes differentially expressed between inoculated and non-inoculated roots were identified using DESeq2. Blast2GO Pro was used to annotate differentially expressed genes and to identify GO terms over-represented in the differentially expressed gene set. Among the differentially expressed genes include several cell wall modifiers, proteins related to hormone response and production, cell cycle regulators, and transcription factors. Our work provides a foundation for understanding the role of plant-based gene expression changes on reniform nematode infection and feeding site formation.



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