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The transcriptome of syncytia induced by the cyst nematode Heterodera schachtii in Arabidopsis roots

By Dagmar Szakasits, Petra Heinen, Krzysztof Wieczorek, Julia Hofmann, Florian Wagner, David P Kreil, Peter Sykacek, Florian M W Grundler and Holger Bohlmann


Arabidopsis thaliana is a host for the sugar beet cyst nematode Heterodera schachtii. Juvenile nematodes invade the roots and induce the development of a syncytium, which functions as a feeding site for the nematode. Here, we report on the transcriptome of syncytia induced in the roots of Arabidopsis. Microaspiration was employed to harvest pure syncytium material, which was then used to prepare RNA for hybridization to Affymetrix GeneChips. Initial data analysis showed that the gene expression in syncytia at 5 and 15 days post-infection did not differ greatly, and so both time points were compared together with control roots. Out of a total of 21 138 genes, 18.4% (3893) had a higher expression level and 15.8% (3338) had a lower expression level in syncytia, as compared with control roots, using a multiple-testing corrected false discovery rate of below 5%. A gene ontology (GO) analysis of up- and downregulated genes showed that categories related to high metabolic activity were preferentially upregulated. A principal component analysis was applied to compare the transcriptome of syncytia with the transcriptome of different Arabidopsis organs (obtained by the AtGenExpress project), and with specific root tissues. This analysis revealed that syncytia are transcriptionally clearly different from roots (and all other organs), as well as from other root tissues

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