To study the role of the phytohormone auxin in nematode feeding cell induction and early development, the transcriptional regulation of the artificial auxin-responsive promoter element DR5 was monitored in Arabidopsis thaliana roots infected with the cyst nematode Heterodera, schachtii or the root-knot nematode Meloidogyne incognita. For both nematode species, a specific and strong activation of DR5::gusA was observed inside the initial feeding cells at 18 h post inoculation, pointing to an increase in the perceived auxin concentration. This high expression was maintained until 3-5 days post inoculation and subsequently the GUS staining was reduced. Cyst and root-knot nematodes are distantly related and the feeding sites they induce are highly dissimilar. In this respect, the similarities between the two nematode-induced DR5 activation patterns in A. thaliana roots are remarkable. A transient and local increase in auxin perception could be due to an accumulation or to an increased sensitivity. Based on previously published data, a local auxin accumulation seems to be the more probable explanation. The observed early and localized increase of the perceived IAA concentration in the initial feeding structure underlines that this phytohormone could be an important clue in feeding cell induction by plant parasitic nematodes.
- plant-parasitic nematodes