Prof. Dr. Ir. Marc Van Meirvenne

prof. dr. Gheysen Godelieve

Can we enhance the immunity of rice to nematode infection and other soil pathogens?

Rice is an important food crop but yields are threatened by biotic and abiotic stresses. Due to the use of water saving technology in rice cultivation, problems with soil borne pathogens such as nematodes are increasing. We have demonstrated that the rice root knot nematode is able to suppress the rice innate immune system to establish a successful infection. To achieve this, the nematode produces specific proteins called effectors that are secreted into the plant roots. On the other hand, specific chemicals and endophytes can enhance the immune system of rice, which is called priming of defence. Currently the application of different chemicals and endophytes is being optimised for easy and efficient protection of the rice crop.

The protection of rice towards pathogens in an sustainable and environmentally friendly way could be achieved by priming its defence.