Johnathan Dalzell

Exploring the latest in crop parasites & biotech

The African Nematode Diversity (AND) resource

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Tomato roots infected with root knot nematodes – collected from a Tanzanian farm just outside Dar es salaam October 2017.

Community-oriented biological and bioinformatic resources exist for the model nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and for filarial nematodes. These resources provide centralised, free or subsidised access to life stages and/or archived tissue samples to their research communities, providing a major boost to researchers by: (i) providing genetically- and phenotypically-profiled reference strains and (ii) relieving laboratories of the need to engage in expensive, time-demanding organism culture and maintenance. Currently, there is no funded, publicly accessible resources for PPNs generally, or Meloidogyne incognita group (MIG) species specifically, which are known to be the most damaging group across sub-saharan Africa in particular.

The African Nematode Diversity (AND) resource will comprise native populations from low- and middle-income countries across sub-saharan Africa. These populations will be curated, cultured and maintained at Queen’s University Belfast within climate controlled growth cabinets. These populations will be associated with metadata relating to behaviour, virulence, and in selected cases, matched transcriptomic, small RNA and genomic datasets.

This resource will be available at minimal cost (shipping costs may be required depending on uptake) to research institutes globally, in line with Nagoya protocol legislation. This pilot project will develop the resource and begin supplying strains to research laboratories, with a view to developing web-based ordering and data infrastructure, alongside incorporation into existing databases such as Wormbase Parasite. We aim to maintain 60 MIG species populations over the pilot phase, weighted as equally as possible across M. incognita, Meloidogyne javanica and Meloidogyne arenaria.

This will provide an important resource to facilitate the linkage of genotype to phenotype, especially for laboratories that do not wish to culture the parasites on site, or are prohibited from doing so by quarantine legislation. ultimately, the resource will support the development of new, more robust methods of control, through enriching the knowledge economy in African nematology, and underpinning the development of breeding programs and biotechnological approaches. As the MIG species identified in this proposal are obligate apomicts, genotypic sources of virulence or behaviour can’t be studied through segregation analysis of progeny, as is possible for Meloidogyne hapla for example. Analysis of the genotypic basis of behaviour and virulence across natural populations provides a different set of tools and opportunities for the community.

During pilot phase we envisage being able to send eggs (it may take some time before we can send infective stage juveniles). We can also send DNA / RNA / cDNA samples as required. Relevant datasets will be made available as quickly as possible through preprint & OA publications.

We are eager to develop a resource that best serves the community. Please get in touch with requests for specific datasets that can be generated for the populations.

Research groups interested in accessing AND resources should email j.dalzell@qub.ac.uk.

Resources will be committed on a first come, first served basis. Those accessing resources will be required to sign MTAs that reflect Nagoya protocol lesiglation, where applicable, and which commits to our collaborative and open data ethos.

 

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