Unmet Need: No commercial potato cultivars with resistant against M. chitwoodi exist.
The potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) is the most important non-cereal food crop worldwide and makes up the staple diet of over 1 billion people. Potatoes are attacked by a wide variety of diseases and pests that can reduce tuber yield and quality significantly. Plant-parasitic nematodes are a major threat to potato production worldwide, with root-knot (Meloidogyne spp.) and cyst nematodes (Globodera spp.) being the most widespread and causing most of the damage. In the Pacific Northwest of the USA, which is the leading potato growing area and accounts for more than half of the country's total production, the Columbia root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne chitwoodi Golden et al.) is the most common and significant nematode threat to sustainable potato cultivation. M. chitwoodi is not only a problem in the USA but has also been found in potato growing regions in Europe, Mexico, Argentina and South Africa, making it a threat in some of the world's most important potato production areas.
The Technology: Transgenic Plants With RNA Interference-Mediated Resistance Against Root-Knot Nematodes
In order to overcome this problem, WSU researchers have implement RNA interference-mediated knock-down of effector gene Mc16D10L to confer resistance against Columbia root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne spp) in both Arabidopsis and potato. These transgenic lines generate small RNAs complementary to the Mc16D10L effector gene in M. chitwoodi, resulting in significant resistance against this nematode. This is the first time stable transgenic potatoes with resistance against M. chitwoodi have been developed. This technology could also be applied to other crops including but not limited to carrots, tomatoes, alfalfa or black salsify. In addition, nematode resistance is also applicable in a field with mixed genotypes, as long as one genotype is transgenic and induces an RNAi phenotype in the nematode and this resistance lasts over several generations.
• Resistance against M. chitwoodi nematodes
• Could be either transgenic or non-transgenic depending on mode of knockdown
• The only known solution to overcome infection by M. chitwoodi nematodes
• Could be applied in multiple crops including potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, alfalfa or black salsify
US patent application filed (14/626,070) - http://www.google.com/patents/US20150259700