Plant-Nematode Interactions

The overall objective of the team, through various levels of study ranging from the gene to the field, is to acquire the scientific basis for a better understanding of the interaction between the plant and the nematode in order to envisage new specific, sustainable and environmentally friendly control methods. The research developed concerns the two partners in the interaction, i.e. the plant, with the study of the development of the disease (susceptibility) or the establishment of resistance, and the parasite, with the analysis of the pathogenicity and its capacity to evolve.</paragraph>

Research topic

Plant-parasitic nematodes (PPN), notably the endoparasitic and highly polyphagous root-knot nematodes of the Meloidogyne spp. and the ectoparasitic grapevine virus-vector nematodes of the Xiphinema spp. cause considerable damage to crops.

The limitations of the current efficient control methods (continuous withdrawal of toxic nematicides, scarcity of the sources of resistance genes and varietal resistance overcome) stress the need for alternative management strategies based on a better knowledge of the host-nematode interactions.

The IPN team's research project is to produce fundamental knowledge and understanding in relation to the molecular dialogue of plant-nematode interactions, from host perception by the plant-parasitic nematodes to the differentiation of the root cells and the formation of specialised plant feeding cells called “giant cells”, by combining "omics", molecular (epi)genetics and cell biology approaches. In parallel, more applied approaches are investigated to support the agroecological transition and propose innovative and sustainable control methods that could be implemented in the field.

Our involvement in research programs on both the mechanistic aspects of the interactions and the applied aspects enables us to address the analysis of the plant-nematode interactions from different perspectives and gives the IPN team a broad and internationally recognised expertise in the field of Nematology.


Research themes and objectives

The studies undertaken at IPN are structured around three main themes:

Theme 1. Mechanisms of perception and adaptation of plant-parasitic nematodes to their host(s)

Dr L. Zurletto, Dr S. Mantelin, Dr C. Van Ghelder, Dr B. Favery, Dr P. Abad, Dr P. Castagnone, C. Caravel, U. Julien-Portier

Theme 2. Study of the molecular dialogue in susceptible plant-nematode interactions: root-knot nematode pathogenicity effectors and cognate manipulated plant functions leading to giant cell formation

 Dr S. Jaubert-Possamai, Dr M. Quentin, Dr B. Favery, K. Mulet, P. Foubert + 3 PhD students S. Soulé, S. Ranty-Roby, A. Dussutour

Theme 3. Designing innovative cropping systems for the sustainable management of plant-parasitic nematodes

Dr C. Djian-Caporalino, Dr C. Van Ghelder, Dr M. Quentin, Dr B. Favery, C. Caravel, U. Julien-Portier + 1 PhD student C. Njekete

Main biological models



  • The root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne spp): considered as the  most damaging PPN for agriculture worldwide
  • The dagger nematodes (Xiphinema spp.): vectors of deadly grapevine virus

Plants (model plants and plants of agronomic interest)

  • Arabidopsis thaliana, Medicago truncatula
  • Solanaceae (tomato Solanum lycopersicum, Nicotiana benthamiana & pepper Capsicum annuum) and perennials (grapevine Vitis spp. & Prunus spp.)

(a) Root-knot nematode system trial in lettuce. (b) Meloidogyne-induced galls on tomato root. (c) Meloidogyne incognita larvae injecting effectors into root cells to induce feeding giant cells. (d) Confocal section of a gall showing multinucleated giant cells. (e) Symptoms of the grapevine fanleaf virus transmitted by Xiphinema index in the vineyard. (f, g) X. index, ectoparasitic virus-vector nematode.

Current issues

Within the three themes of research, work conducted at IPN aims at studying:

1.1 Mechanisms of plant perception by nematodes in Meloidogyne & Xiphinema species


 Diamines (e.g. putrescine and cadaverine) attract M. incognita larvae (Oota et al. 2020, Mol. Plant)

1.2 Genetic and epigenetic determinants of root-knot nematode adaptation to plant resistance


M. incognita genome-wide maps of five histone post-translational modifications (Hassanaly-Goulamhoussen et al. 2021, Front. Cell Dev. Biol.)

2.1 Key effectors of nematode parasitism and their direct plant targets


Root-knot nematode effectors produced in salivary glands are injected into the plant cells and target key cellular functions to suppress plant defences and establish feeding cells (Mejias et al. 2021, New Phytol.)

2.2 The role of signalling peptides in root-knot nematode-induced giant cell formation and comparison with their roles in symbiotic interactions

2.3 Transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation of plant genes during giant cell formation


Key roles of miRNA – targeted transcripts in giant cell development (Medina et al. 2017, New Phytol.)

3.1 Exploiting susceptibility genes to develop new resistances to plant-parasitic nematodes

3.2 The system approach & development of innovative cropping systems


Evaluating forage sorghums as cover crops to control root-knot nematodes over a 4-years field experiment (Djian-Caporalino et al. 2019, BASE & Crop Protection)

Scientific partnership and support programs

  • National collaborations: INRAE-Universities-CNRS research units (IGEPP, IPS2, LIPME, LRSV, SVQV), private companies (Syngenta, Limagrain Vegetable Seeds, LIDEA seeds, UPL France, Bayer Crop Science, …) and agricultural professional organisations (CTIFL, APREL, GRAB, Chambres d’agriculture, CETA PACA, GIS PICLég…)
  • International collaborations: Kumamoto University (Japan), Meiji University (Tokyo, Japan), RIKEN Institute (Japan), CAU (China Agricultural University Beijing, China), CAAS (Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing, China), Ludwig-Maximilians University (LMU)(Germany), WUR Wageningen (The Netherlands), The James Hutton Institute (Dundee, Scotland), University of Gent (Belgium), University of Toledo (Spain), NCSU Raleigh (USA), ISU Ames (USA), …
  • Coordination and participation in numerous research programs: national (ANR...), European (COST) and international research programs (see projects and contracts tab)

Team members

(cf team members tab on the right)

Permanent staff members: 5 researchers & 1 research engineer (INRAE), 2 associate professors (Univ. Côte d’Azur),       4 assistant engineer/technicians (INRAE)

Fixed-term staff members: 4 PhD students (Univ. Côte d’Azur), 1 assistant engineer, 2 Post-docs


IPN team (Spring 2022)

See also

Modification date: 16 October 2023 | Publication date: 16 December 2011 | By: bfavery