Director: Fatma Kaplan, Ph.D.
Ongoing project: Identification of RKN dispersal cue and how the dispersal cue affects nematode populations around the root zone.
Dr. Kaplan’s background in pheromones and plant parasitic nematodes
Dr. Kaplan worked on isolation of root knot nematode (RKN) pheromone when Dr. Kaplan started working at the CMAVE, USDA-ARS in 2008. RKNs were a lot more challenging than EPNs and C. elegans. Dr. Kaplan took a hands on course on plant parasitic nematodes at Clemson University in 2011. At the end of the course, Dr. Kaplan was able to identify plant parasitic nematodes in nature, she had learned about their fascinating life cycles and made a major leap toward isolating ascaroside pheromones from RKNs. Dr. Kaplan integrated the knowledge from the plant parasitic nematode course and her experience with nematode pheromones, to develop a new strategy for identification of ascarosides in RKN. She extracted ascarosides from 10000 RKN J2 and ran LC-MS analysis in 2011 at the USDA. She was able to identify ascarosides. At that time, Dr. Stephan von Reuss at the Schroeder lab at Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) developed a method to identify known and novel ascarosides using LC-MS/MS which was also more sensitive than the LC-MS Dr. Kaplan had access at the CMAVE, USDA-ARS Chemistry Lab in Gainesville, FL. Dr. Kaplan asked Dr. Schroeder to run RKN pheromone extracts in his lab. She sent the crude pheromone extracts from 10000 RKN J2s which were a mixture of M. incognita, M. javanica and M. floridensis and went to BTI to do LC-MS/MS analysis. Dr. von Reuss and Dr. Kaplan found 5 ascarosides (ascr#10, ascr#16, ascr#18, ascr#20, and ascr#22) in interior of RKN J2 in December 2011. A US and world patent application was filed in 2012 (Patent application No: 14/237786)