Detecting virus-carrying Xiphinema spp. as an alternative to Xiphinema identification up to species level in trade

Project Details


Main research question/goal

Nematodes can in some cases transmit viruses that are not desirable - or are even prohibited - in the plant trade sector. The XIPHVIR project aims at developing a way to detect these so-called nepoviruses. These are the research questions: 1) Which methods are currently already available to detect (nepo)viruses in plants and nematodes, and which of these offer the best options as a performant generic method to detect the different neopviruses (in subgroups)? 2) Can we provide an optimized and validated method(s) for the detection of viruses in the nematodes? The emphasis is on specificity, sensitivity and robustness of the method. 3) How does this method perform for the detection of viruses in nematodes in the context of an interlaboratory test? Through this interlaboratory test, other parameters such as repeatability and reproducibility will also be assessed. 4) Is nanopore sequencing (MinIon strategy) an alternative option for the future as a rapid method to identify (nepo)viruses in nematode samples? 

Research approach

We start by screening of current methods for detecting neopviruses in plants and nematodes by examining scientific literature, interlaboratory test reports, and findings from practice. We select the most performant generic method for the detection of the different subgroups of neopviruses. We collect Xiphinema spp. and establish their cultures. We optimize and validate the selected method(s) for virus detection in the nematodes. We establish a standardized all-inclusive protocol starting with nematode extraction, RNA extraction, virus detection and virus identification. Through an interlaboratory test, we evaluate the validated methods of virus detection in nematodes. In a short initial trial on a small number of selected nematode samples with known virus status, we assess the feasibility of using nanopore sequencing (MinIon strategy) as a rapid, reliable method to identify nepoviruses in nematode samples. 


Plant breeders and traders will benefit from a rapid and reliable diagnostic method in this regard. The researchers believe that their method of detecting the viruses in nematodes associated with traded planting material (with attached soil) could lead to a favorable phytosanitary regulation due to its specificity: Currently, plants containing species of the X. americanum group that are recognized as capable of transmitting certain viruses may not be imported. This could be made more flexible by requiring confirmation of the (true) presence of a neopvirus in the nematode. At the methodological-scientific level, the relevance of this project lies in the fact that the approach of DIT priject can later be applied to other nematode genera that transmit viruses. 

Effective start/end date1/07/2030/06/22