The Plant Nematology Laboratory is an internationally recognised group working to develop nematode resistant crops. We are part of the Centre for Plant Sciences and the Faculty of Biological Sciences at the University of Leeds.
Plant parasitic nematodes (PPNs) cause >$100 billion annual losses to world agriculture of which cyst and root-knot nematodes contribute over 80%. Their management involves crop rotation and host resistance, which provide incomplete control, and chemical nematicides, which are the most toxicological and environmentally damaging pesticides in widespread use posing considerable risk to aquatic ecosystems and drinking water supplies.
The approaches taken by the lab to overcome this challenge include developing biofumigation to replace the withdrawn nematicides and utilising well established anti-feedant technology as well as newly developed behavioural repellents and RNAi to provide plant based resistance to nematodes in several crops. We are also undertaking fundamental research using the model species C. elegans and utilising the data being generated by the sequencing of Globodera pallida to identify novel strategies and targets for engineering nematode resistance.
While PPN cause a severe constraint to global agricultural production, free living nematodes are essential to all soil ecosystems and are a useful indicator for soil health. We are developing molecular tools that will 'barcode' the different free living nematodes allowing them to be monitored to ensure there is no adverse environmental impact from our transgenic plants.
Rational selection of nematode resistance proteins combined with rigorous testing for potential toxicity and allergenicity also ensure that there is no risk to human health.
Our technology is owned by the University of Leeds. It is available for royalty free use in many developing countries on key crops such as rice, potato and banana. Our work is publicly funded for public benefit.
Research in the Plant Nematology lab is supported by