Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

UK Research Groups to Sequence Genome of Potato Parasite

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) - Researchers in the UK led by the University of Leeds will use funding from the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council to sequence the genome of a tiny worm that damages potato crops, the university said today.
The groups will use £1.7 million ($3.5 million) to sequence the potato cyst nematode’s genome in order to gain knowledge of how the mysterious parasite, also called Globodera pallida, functions and how to prevent it from damaging crops.
Along with Leeds, researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Rothamstead Research, and the Scottish Crop Research Institute will contribute to the genomics project, which is expected to be completed in 2012.
G. pallida invades a potato plant’s root system and injects it with a substance that causes the plant to create a cell that serves as a sort of “feeding tube” that allows the worm to feed on the plant, the university said. This stunts the growth of the roots and reduces the yield and quality of potato crops.
“We have no idea what this injected substance is or how it manages to persuade the plant to create the feeding cell,” Peter Urwin, a member of Leeds’ bioscience faculty, said in a statement.
“Although there is partial resistance in some potato varieties, it is very difficult to breed this resistance into commercial ones -- so we’re tackling the problem from a different perspective,” Urwin added.
Another problem is that the worm can remain viable in soil for as long as twenty years and has a hatching process that is triggered by its sensing of nearby potato roots.
“Because of this, once a field is infected, it’s almost impossible to get rid of them,” Urwin continued.
Leeds said that G. pallida is found in 55 countries worldwide. Farmers in the UK spend as much as £50 million per year to combat the worm with chemicals that can cause sterility in the soil.

The Scan

White-Tailed Deer Harbor SARS-CoV-2 Variants No Longer Infecting Humans, Study Finds

A new study in PNAS has found that white-tailed deer could act as a reservoir of SARS-CoV-2 variants no longer found among humans.

Study Points to Benefits of Local Consolidative Therapy, Targeted Treatments in Cancer Care

In JCO Precision Oncology, researchers report that local consolidative therapy combined with molecularly targeted treatments could improve survival for some lung cancer patients.

Genetic Variants That Lower LDL Cholesterol Linked to Reduced Heart Disease Risk

Rare variants in two genes that lower LDL cholesterol are also associated with a decreased risk of coronary heart disease, according to a new JAMA Cardiology study.

Study Links Evolution of Longevity, Social Organization in Mammals

With the help of comparative phylogenetics and transcriptomics, researchers in Nature Communications see ties between lifespan and social organization in mammals.