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Some of the most promising approaches to controlling plant parasitic nematodes involve the identification and manipulation of parasitism genes in nematodes, and resistance genes in plants. However, in the absence of a resolved tylenchid phylogeny, most researchers must infer phylogenetic relationships from classifications. Preliminary analyses show that most of the families within the group are paraphyletic, and that no sister taxon relationships can be inferred with confidence for any of the families.
The lack of a resolved tylenchid phylogeny has major consequences on the extrapolation and extension of understanding the genomes of plant parasitic nematodes, and the role of the “parasitome” in plant pathology. Indeed, without a resolved phylogeny, it is impossible to infer with reason even the most basic and biologically fundamental questions concerning plant pathogenic nematodes; the origin and maintenance of the genetic, morphological, and even ecological associations between nematodes and their plant hosts. Thus, the primary goal of the proposed research is the empowerment of all other research programs in plant nematology.