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Application of Pluronic gel to the study of root-knot nematode behaviour

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image of Nematology
For more content, see Nematologica.

Pluronic F-127 is a stable, non-toxic, copolymer that forms a gel at room temperature and a liquid at 15°C when the concentration is 20-30%. Root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne spp.) second-stage juveniles can move freely through the gel and display attraction toward roots of tomato, Medicago truncatula, common bean and Arabidopsis. The excellent clarity of the gel allows examination of behavioural changes in the nematode as it reaches and infects its host. Attraction assays showed that Meloidogyne javanica and M. incognita move to roots much more rapidly than does M. hapla. Nematodes form aggregates when in contact with root tips suggesting that the presence of a signal from the nematode or from the root is involved in the attraction. Nematodes suspended in Pluronic gel without roots aggregate into balls after 1 to 2 days. A coverslip placed on the gel accelerates and serves as a focus for the aggregation, suggesting that lower oxygen, or perhaps a volatile attractant, is involved in this behaviour. These observations demonstrate that Pluronic gel is a useful medium for dissecting attraction of root-knot nematodes to their hosts and for studying additional aspects of their behaviour.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Nematology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA; 2: Department of Nematology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA;, Email:


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