International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) Nairobi 30772-00100, Kenya
Abstract: Plant parasitic nematodes (PPNs) are economically important belowground pests that parasitize numerous crop species and present a risk to food security. The global crop losses attributed to PPN infestation is estimated at over USD 100 billion annually. Crop production losses of 40-100% have been observed in Africa although the economic impact is yet to be established. PPN infestation persists despite cultural practices and the most effective nematicides have serious negative impacts on the environment, humans, and other non-target organisms. This necessitates the use of other complementary approaches in their control among them being the use of semiochemicals. Plant roots release herbivore induced volatiles including the phytohormones methyl salicylate and methyl jasmonate, as a defense response to soil-borne pathogens. Since PPNs respond to these compounds in the root exudate of solanaceous plants as attractants/repellents, we posed the question: do PPNs eavesdrop into microbe-plant interactions. This presentation will outline progress made in elucidating the role of plant chemical defenses in the interaction between the PPN Meloidogyne javanica a key root knot nematode with its host plant tomato.