Transcription factor WOX11 modulates tolerance to cyst nematodes via adventitious lateral root formation

Jaap-Jan Willig, Nina Guarneri, Thomas van Loon, Sri Wahyuni, Ivan E. Astudillo-Estévez*, Lin Xu, Viola Willemsen, Aska Goverse, Mark G. Sterken, José L. Lozano-Torres, Jaap Bakker, Geert Smant*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The transcription factor WUSCHEL-RELATED HOMEOBOX 11 (WOX11) in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) initiates the formation of adventitious lateral roots upon mechanical injury in primary roots. Root-invading nematodes also induce de novo root organogenesis leading to excessive root branching, but it is not known if this symptom of disease involves mediation by WOX11 and if it benefits the plant. Here, we show with targeted transcriptional repression and reporter gene analyses in Arabidopsis that the beet cyst nematode Heterodera schachtii activates WOX11-mediated adventitious lateral rooting from primary roots close to infection sites. The activation of WOX11 in nematode-infected roots occurs downstream of jasmonic acid-dependent damage signaling via ETHYLENE RESPONSE FACTOR109, linking adventitious lateral root formation to nematode damage to host tissues. By measuring different root system components, we found that WOX11-mediated formation of adventitious lateral roots compensates for nematode-induced inhibition of primary root growth. Our observations further demonstrate that WOX11-mediated rooting reduces the impact of nematode infections on aboveground plant development and growth. Altogether, we conclude that the transcriptional regulation by WOX11 modulates root system plasticity under biotic stress, which is one of the key mechanisms underlying the tolerance of Arabidopsis to cyst nematode infections.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberkiae053
Pages (from-to)799-811
JournalPlant Physiology
Issue number1
Early online date8 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - 2024


Dive into the research topics of 'Transcription factor WOX11 modulates tolerance to cyst nematodes via adventitious lateral root formation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this