Plant-parasitic nematodes are the most destructive group of plant pathogens worldwide and are extremely challenging to control. The recent completion of two root-knot nematode genomes opens the way for a comparative genomics approach to elucidate the success of these parasites. Sequencing revealed that , a diploid that reproduces by facultative, meiotic parthenogenesis, encodes approximately 14,200 genes in a compact, 54 Mpb genome. Indeed, this is the smallest metazoan genome completed to date. By contrast, the 86 Mbp genome encodes approximately 19,200 genes. This species reproduces by obligate mitotic parthenogenesis and exhibits a complex pattern of aneuploidy. The genome includes triplicated regions and contains allelic pairs with exceptionally high degrees of sequence divergence, presumably reflecting adaptations to the strictly asexual reproductive mode. Both root-knot nematode genomes have compacted gene families compared with the free-living nematode , and both encode large suites of enzymes that uniquely target the host plant. Acquisition of these genes, apparently via horizontal gene transfer, and their subsequent expansion and diversification point to the evolutionary history of these parasites. It also suggests new routes to their control.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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