MSc Thesis Topic: Horizontal gene transfer

The driving force behind the evolution of plant parasitic nematodes?

Nematodes are the most abundant animals on earth. Recently, a number of nematode cell wall-degrading enzymes, such as cellulase, have been cloned. Surprisingly, these nematode enzymes display strikingly similarities towards bacterial genes instead of eukaryotic ones.

To test whether these genes have been acquired from bacteria through horizontal gene transfer, firstly, the distribution of CWDE genes in the whole phylum of Nematoda will be investigated. Secondly, it will be studied whether CWDE sequences are physically clustered in ‘pathogenicity islands’. 

Techniques                                                               

  • RNA and DNA isolation
  • Genome walking and RACE
  • Bioinformatics analysis
  • BAC library construction and screening
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)
  • Cloning and sequencing 
Uptake of  FITC (green-fluorescent) of an  infective second-stage juvenile of potato cyst  nematode induced with octopamin. The use of octopamin was applied in gene  silencing experiments, were nematodes were  soaked in dubbel-stranded RNA and successively inoculated on roots. The success rate of infection  and development of the nematode can give  us clues for the function of a gene. In this way we are able to silence nematode  genes that are putative parasitism related,  and study their mode of action./Picture: Sajid Rehman & Hein Overmars
Uptake of FITC (green-fluorescent) of an infective second-stage juvenile of potato cyst nematode induced with octopamin. The use of octopamin was applied in gene silencing experiments, were nematodes were soaked in dubbel-stranded RNA and successively inoculated on roots. The success rate of infection and development of the nematode can give us clues for the function of a gene. In this way we are able to silence nematode genes that are putative parasitism related, and study their mode of action./Picture: Sajid Rehman & Hein Overmars

Depending on your own interests and background, there are several different aspects that can be studied related to the above described project