Root-knot nematodes produce functional mimics of tyrosine-sulfated plant peptides

I love reading about pathogens hijacking host systems; I’m always thrilled to see how “life finds a way”. Here’s another. Plants use a variety of peptides as hormones, many of which have covalent modifications of one sort or another. One class are the tyrosine-sulfated peptides, the PLANT PEPTIDE CONTAINING SULFATED TYROSINE (PSY)-family. PSY family peptides suppress defense signaling and promote root development, and previously it has been shown that a Xanthomanas bacterial pathogen of plants can produce functional PSY mimics. Here, Yimer et al. show that root-knot nematodes also carry genes encoding PSY-like peptides. Application of the peptides in the absence of the nematodes promotes root growth. Furthermore, a siRNA approach to downregulate expression of the genes in the nematodes suppressed both root galling and egg production, suggesting a potential avenue to promote plant resistance against parasitic nematodes. (Summary by Mary Williams @PlantTeaching) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 10.1073/pnas.2304612120