Insights Into the Mechanisms Implicated in Pinus pinaster Resistance to Pinewood Nematode

Inês Modesto, Lieven Sterck, Vicent Arbona, Aurelio Gómez-Cadenas, Isabel Carrasquinho, Yves Van de Peer, Célia M. Miguel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Pine wilt disease (PWD), caused by the plant–parasitic nematode Bursaphelenchus xylophilus, has become a severe environmental problem in the Iberian Peninsula with devastating effects in Pinus pinaster forests. Despite the high levels of this species' susceptibility, previous studies reported heritable resistance in P. pinaster trees. Understanding the basis of this resistance can be of extreme relevance for future programs aiming at reducing the disease impact on P. pinaster forests. In this study, we highlighted the mechanisms possibly involved in P. pinaster resistance to PWD, by comparing the transcriptional changes between resistant and susceptible plants after infection. Our analysis revealed a higher number of differentially expressed genes (DEGs) in resistant plants (1,916) when compared with susceptible plants (1,226). Resistance to PWN is mediated by the induction of the jasmonic acid (JA) defense pathway, secondary metabolism pathways, lignin synthesis, oxidative stress response genes, and resistance genes. Quantification of the acetyl bromide-soluble lignin confirmed a significant increase of cell wall lignification of stem tissues around the inoculation zone in resistant plants. In addition to less lignified cell walls, susceptibility to the pine wood nematode seems associated with the activation of the salicylic acid (SA) defense pathway at 72 hpi, as revealed by the higher SA levels in the tissues of susceptible plants. Cell wall reinforcement and hormone signaling mechanisms seem therefore essential for a resistance response.

Original languageEnglish
Article number690857
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2021


  • Bursaphelenchus xylophilus
  • cell wall lignification
  • jasmonate
  • maritime pine
  • pine wilt disease
  • resistance genes
  • secondary metabolism
  • transcriptome


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