Functional C-terminally encoded plant peptide (CEP) hormone domains evolved de novo in the plant parasite Rotylenchulus reniformis

Sebastian Eves-van den Akker, Catherine J Lilley, Hazijah B Yusup, John T Jones, Peter E Urwin (Lead / Corresponding author)

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35 Citations (Scopus)
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Sedentary Plant-Parasitic Nematodes (PPNs) induce and maintain an intimate relationship with their host, stimulating cells adjacent to root vascular tissue to re-differentiate into unique and metabolically active "feeding sites". The interaction between PPNs and their host is mediated by nematode effectors. We describe the discovery of a large and diverse family of effector genes, encoding C-terminally Encoded Peptide (CEP) plant hormone mimics (RrCEPs), in the syncytia-forming plant-parasite Rotylenchulus reniformis. The particular attributes of RrCEPs distinguish them from all other CEPs, regardless of origin. Together with the distant phylogenetic relationship of R. reniformis to the only other CEP-encoding nematode genus identified to date (Meloidogyne), this suggests CEPs likely evolved de novo in R. reniformis. We have characterised the first member of this large gene family (RrCEP1), demonstrating its significant upregulation during the plant-nematode interaction and expression in the effector-producing pharyngeal gland cell. All internal CEP domains of multi-domain RrCEPs are followed by di-basic residues, suggesting a mechanism for cleavage. A synthetic peptide corresponding to RrCEP1 domain 1 is biologically active and capable of upregulating plant nitrate transporter (AtNRT2.1) expression, while simultaneously reducing primary root elongation. When a non-CEP containing, syncytia-forming PPN species (Heterodera schachtii) infects Arabidopsis in a CEP-rich environment a smaller feeding site is produced. We hypothesise that CEPs of R. reniformis represent a two-fold adaptation to sustained biotrophy in this species; 1) increasing host nitrate uptake while 2) limiting the size of the syncytial feeding site produced. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1265-1275
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Plant Pathology
Issue number8
Early online date6 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sept 2016


  • effector
  • evolution
  • plant-parasitic nematode
  • plant peptide hormone


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