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Research Developing Nematode Control Alternatives Receives Awards at Conference

Students Affiliated with INCT Plant Stress Biotech, Developing Nematode Control Alternatives, Win Best Research Awards at the 53rd Brazilian Phytopathology Congress.

Nematodes have a significant impact on agriculture by attacking plant roots, disrupting their growth and nutrient uptake. These parasites can cause substantial damage in various crops, including banana and cotton.

In the banana crop, for instance, nematodes can weaken plants, displaying symptoms like yellowing, wilting, and even premature death of seedlings. In cotton, these organisms can induce the formation of root galls, impairing water and nutrient absorption, leading to reduced productivity and fiber quality.

raizes de algodoreiro infectadas por nematoides
Cotton Plant Roots Infected by Nematodes. The Marked Areas Are Galls, Structures Formed as a Result of Infection by the Nematode M. incognita.

Effectively controlling nematodes remains a constant concern for farmers, as inadequate management can result in significant harvest losses. Techniques like crop rotation, cover cropping, and application of nematicide chemicals are some of the approaches used to mitigate damage caused by these parasites.

However, a more sustainable and promising approach is the development of plants resistant to nematodes. Through biotechnology techniques, it's possible to improve the

resistance genes into target crops, granting them the ability to better withstand nematode attacks.

This approach not only reduces reliance on chemical agents but can also boost crop productivity and quality, thereby contributing to food security and agricultural economies.

Best Research in the Undergraduate and Master's Categories

Between August 7th and 10th, 2023, the 53rd Brazilian Phytopathology Congress took place in Brasília, Federal District. The event aims to bring together professionals from the fields of education, research, and extension in both the public and private sectors, as well as students from Brazil and abroad, along with experts from various segments of production chains.

The Conference objective is to discuss the current status and scientific advancements related to plant diseases and their control methods, fostering knowledge exchange and anticipating new challenges to be overcome.

Bringing innovations and promising outcomes to agriculture, Sara Vitorino da Rocha Lemes, a Biotechnology student, and Lucas Santos Bastos, an Agronomist and Master's candidate in the Phytopathology Postgraduate Program, both from the University of Brasília - UnB, were awarded for their research. Sara earned second place in the Undergraduate category, while Lucas secured third place in the Master's category.

Sara's work, titled "Development of cotton plants with reduced susceptibility to Meloidogyne incognita through RNA interference". The aim of Sara's work is to develop transgenic cotton plants that produce a specific RNA molecule for nematode control. Therefore, when the parasite feeds on the plant, it also ingests this RNA, hampering its development and reducing the number of galls and eggs in the plant roots.

Lucas's master's research aimed to identify and characterize genes associated with resistance to M. incognita and tolerance to water stress, as well as how the interaction between these two stresses occurs in banana plants. Through this study, it becomes possible to enhance our understanding of the mechanisms linked to these stresses and provide data for banana genetic improvement. It was with the work titled "Differential Expression of Genes Associated with Meloidogyne incognita Infection and Water Deficit in Musa acuminata" that he secured third place in his category.

These awards showcase the quality and effectiveness of projects affiliated with INCT Plant Stress Biotech, as well as one of INCT's objectives in developing biotechnological tools for the Brazilian agribusiness.

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