Root architecture plasticity in response to endoparasitic cyst nematodes is mediated by damage signaling

Nina Guarneri, Jaap-Jan Willig, Mark G. Sterken, Wenkun Zhou, Shamim Hasan, Letia Sharon, Florian M.W. Grundler, Viola Willemsen, Aska Goverse, Geert Smant, Jose L. Lozano-Torres*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Plant root architecture plasticity in response to biotic stresses has not been thoroughly investigated. Infection by endoparasitic cyst nematodes induces root architectural changes that involve the formation of secondary roots at infection sites. However, the molecular mechanisms regulating secondary root formation in response to cyst nematode infection remain largely unknown. We first assessed whether secondary roots form in a nematode density-dependent manner by challenging wild-type Arabidopsis plants with increasing numbers of cyst nematodes (Heterodera schachtii). Next, using jasmonate-related reporter lines and knockout mutants, we tested whether tissue damage by nematodes triggers jasmonate-dependent secondary root formation. Finally, we verified whether damage-induced secondary root formation depends on local auxin biosynthesis at nematode infection sites. Intracellular host invasion by H. schachtii triggers a transient local increase in jasmonates, which activates the expression of ERF109 in a COI1-dependent manner. Knockout mutations in COI1 and ERF109 disrupt the nematode density-dependent increase in secondary roots observed in wild-type plants. Furthermore, ERF109 regulates secondary root formation upon H. schachtii infection via local auxin biosynthesis. Host invasion by H. schachtii triggers secondary root formation via the damage-induced jasmonate-dependent ERF109 pathway. This points at a novel mechanism underlying plant root plasticity in response to biotic stress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)807-822
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023


  • Arabidopsis thaliana
  • auxin
  • damage
  • ERF109
  • Heterodera schachtii
  • jasmonates
  • root architecture
  • root plasticity


Dive into the research topics of 'Root architecture plasticity in response to endoparasitic cyst nematodes is mediated by damage signaling'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this